EPA Ignores Cost-Benefit Analysis on Mercury Rule
by Guest Blogger, 3/22/2005
From the Washington Post: When the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a rule last week to limit mercury emissions from U.S. power plants, officials emphasized that the controls could not be more aggressive because the cost to industry already far exceeded the public health payoff. What they did not reveal is that a Harvard University study paid for by the EPA, co-authored by an EPA scientist and peer-reviewed by two other EPA scientists had reached the opposite conclusion. That analysis estimated health benefits 100 times as great as the EPA did, but top agency officials ordered the finding stripped from public documents, said a staff member who helped develop the rule. Acknowledging the Harvard study would have forced the agency to consider more stringent controls, said environmentalists and the study's author. EPA officials stripped the unfavorable findings from the public record. If the findings had been used, it may have forced EPA to adopt a more stringent standard. Proponents of cost-benefit analysis argue that it is a neutral tool necessary to reign in over-zealous regulation, but as seen with the mercury regulation, cost-benefit analysis is nothing more than a political tool, used by the agency only when it favors their political objectives. Read more about how cost-benefit analysis is not a neutral tool. Adding to the case for a more stringent regulation than the one promulgated by EPA, the LA Times recently reported that mercury may also be linked to autism. A study in Texas found that districts with the highest rates of mercury toxins in the environment also had the highest rate of autism in schools. "The study, which will appear in the journal Health & Place, found that for every 1,000 pounds of mercury released into the environment, there was a 43% increase in special education services and a 61% increase in the autism rate." Read more about EPA's mercury regulation.