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EPA’s 'Regulatory Impact Analysis' Leaves Out a Lot of 'Impacts'

            A major focus of the recent Congressional hearing on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed coal ash disposal regulations was on what the Agency does – or does not – consider relevant when analyzing the economic impacts of its actions.  It turns out that some basic things – like jobs – apparently don’t count.

            This YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHlWdZgJcRY captures an exchange between Congressman Cory Gardner of Colorado and the head of the EPA division writing the new coal ash rules. Rep. Gardner attempts to get a straight answer regarding whether EPA considered jobs in its analysis of proposed coal ash rules from Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. Viewer Discretion Advised: This video contains bureaucratic language some viewers may find offensive.

            Not considering impacts on jobs is only part of what’s missing from EPA’s analysis, however. Another witness at the hearing, Dawn Santoianni, a senior engineer with Veritas Economic Consulting, testified that EPA failed to consider several important costs associated with the agency’s proposed “hazardous waste” regulatory approach.  Ms. Santoianni testified the incremental cost to utilities over a 20-year period is between $54.66 billion and $76.84 billion – much higher than EPA’s estimate of $20.35 billion. (For a copy of Ms. Santoianni’s complete testimony, click here: http://www.recyclingfirst.org/pdfs/67.pdf.)

            But wait, there’s more.  EPA has not even tried to analyze impacts of its “hazardous waste” proposal on the coal ash recycling industry or the small businesses that make up a major portion of that industry.  That’s because EPA considers impacts of its disposal regulations on the recycling industry to be “indirect” and therefore not worth looking at.

            The situation is made more tragic by the fact that engineering standards for landfills are essentially the same under both the “hazardous” and “non-hazardous” regulatory approaches EPA has proposed.  EPA’s primary reason for wanting a “hazardous” designation is because that approach gives EPA enforcement authority that would otherwise belong to the states.  (See http://www.recyclingfirst.org/blog/?post=59 for more background.)

            So the question is: What cost is EPA willing to have Americans pay for the Agency to grab more regulatory power? The answer that seems to be shaping up is: Any cost.


Posted by: on: Apr 21, 2011 @ 04:34