Thursday, August 02, 2007

White House tampers with EPA smog plan

EPA’s long-awaited cost-benefit analysis of its smog plan is finally out. And it bears out some of our concerns – namely, that the White House is tampering with the EPA proposal in an effort to undermine it.

Here is an executive summary of the regulatory impact analysis:

In it, the White House Office of Management and Budget has tampered with the EPA proposal in two distinct ways:

1) OMB demanded that EPA analyze a weaker standard than the agency has proposed. (EPA proposed a range of between 70 and 75 parts per billion; OMB demanded that EPA also analyze a weaker level of 79;

2) OMB has also forced EPA to consider a range of benefits – including the assumption that reducing people’s exposure to ozone brings no benefit in form of reduced deaths. The biggest public health benefits come from reduced deaths. OMB has manipulated the numbers to make it appear as if the benefits of cleanup could be much lower than they really are. Keep in mind that EPA’s independent science advisers agreed with other scientists that the science is clear – ozone kills. For OMB to pretend that it doesn’t is a clear sign that it is trying to weaken EPA’s proposal. And EPA’s proposal was ALREADY weaker than the unanimous recommendation of EPA’s science advisers. OMB’s strategy is clear: make it appear as if cleaning up the air will cost a lot, but bring uncertain benefits. That is sure to fuel industry opposition to a tougher standard.

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