Marketplace has a new podcast for kids, "Million Bazillion!" EPISODE OUT NOW

How EPA weighs costs, benefits of air pollution regulation

Stan Alcorn Nov 26, 2014
HTML EMBED:
COPY

How EPA weighs costs, benefits of air pollution regulation

Stan Alcorn Nov 26, 2014
HTML EMBED:
COPY

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed to take up a case challenging limits on toxins found in emissions from coal-fired power plants, on the grounds that industry believed the Environmental Protection Agency should have taken the costs of regulation into account earlier.

On Wednesday, the EPA proposed a rule to lower the amount of smog-causing ozone allowed in the air. The rule was slated for 2011, but delayed by President Obama on grounds that it was important to reduce “regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover.”

So how does the EPA weigh costs and benefits?

The agency is actually forbidden from taking costs into account when writing rules such as the limit on ozone, but EPA administrator Gina McCarthy says the health benefits nonetheless exceed the costs of compliance. The American Petroleum Institute, an oil industry trade group, comes to a very different conclusion in its analysis.

Richard Revesz , a New York University law professor and author of “Retaking Rationality: How Cost-Benefit Analysis Can Better Protect the Environment and our Health” says the EPA has generally underestimated, not overestimated, costs. But the whole argument over costs and benefits is largely about convincing the public and the politicians. 

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.