EPA Says It's ‘Prohibited’ From Considering Costs When Issuing Air-Quality Regulations

The Environmental Protection Agency informed Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) in a recent letter that it considers itself “prohibited” by law from considering costs when setting National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

“I received this week a letter from the EPA regarding a letter I’ve written them about some of their rules and they wrote here, quote, ‘Thus, the agency is prohibited from considering costs in setting these standards,'" Hartzler said last week. "Now in business we do a cost benefit analysis before we make policy changes. Washington should as well.”

“We have got way too many government regulations and we’ve got to get them off the backs of our business owners," said Hartzler in a Thursday press conference with House Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R.-Va.). "The small business administration reported that government regulations are estimated to cost our economy over $1.75 trillion a year and I hear these horror stories on a regular basis from business owners back in my district and yet the bureaucracy seems to be oblivious to the implications of these rules on jobs.”

The letter from the EPA referenced by Rep. Hartzler was written in response to a letter she and a group of Republican House members sent to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson regarding an NAAQS rule.

“We write to you today to express our concern regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule to reconsider a recently issued 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground level ozone,” said the letter dated February 23, 2011.

“This action departs from the normal five-year NAAQS review schedule established by the Clean Air Act, a statutory process that includes mandatory reviews of new science and affords multiple opportunities for public comment.”

The letter, provided to CNSNews.com by Hartzler’s press office also said: “According to EPA’s estimate, the 2008 standard requires states and local governments to make significant reductions in ozone at a cost to industry of about $7.6 to $8.8 billion per year. EPA’s new proposal calls for even greater reductions that will cost up to $90 billion per year, per EPA’s own estimates.”

In a response dated May 10, assistant EPA administratorGina McCarthy wrote, “Under the Clean Air Act, decisions regarding the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) must be based solely on an evaluation of the scientific evidence as it pertains to health and environmental effects.”

She continued, “Thus, the agency is prohibited from considering costs in setting the NAAQS. But cost can be – and is – considered in developing the control strategies to meet the standards (i.e. during the implementation phase).”

Crossposted at CNSNews.com