EPA’s Proposed Benefit-Cost Changes Rig the Process and Put People at Risk

Statement by Rachel Cleetus, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jun 4, 2020

WASHINGTON (June 4, 2020)—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced changes to the way it carries out benefit-cost analysis, which would limit how the agency considers the public health benefits of its rules. This proposal is a backdoor way to justify rollbacks of public health and environmental protections, and it will put us at greater risk, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Rachel Cleetus, policy director of the Climate and Energy Program at UCS.

“Faced with increasing evidence of the dangers of air pollution and the damaging impacts of climate change, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has chosen willful ignorance over action.

“The EPA is supposed to evaluate evidence and craft rules that protect public health and safety. Wheeler has flipped that mission on its head. These proposed changes are transparently aimed at undermining the clear case for strong public health protections. By arbitrarily devaluing and marginalizing significant direct benefits of these policies, Wheeler is trying to rig the process to justify the weaker rules he’s always advocated.

“The Wheeler EPA’s shoddy science and economics have been on full display in recent rulemakings. Today’s proposal demonstrates that Administrator Wheeler and his fellow political appointees at EPA are committed to undercutting the public health benefits of pollution reduction through any means possible.

“Erasing numbers from a spreadsheet doesn’t change the reality that cutting pollution saves lives and improves health. If finalized, these changes will enable powerful industries to pollute more, under the pretense that it’s less harmful. Families and communities across the country will be paying the cost for Wheeler’s manipulation of the science.

“In the middle of one of the greatest public health crises in living memory, Wheeler is focused on making it easier to undo existing public health protections, and making it harder to put new ones in place.”

Julie McNamara, senior energy analyst for the Climate and Energy Program at UCS, explores these changes in more detail here.