The industry wants both. The executive branch is required to enact new laws through regulation and regulation. Often the industry wants the bureaucracy to go slow, consider every alternative, find the least costly way, no matter how long it takes or how many people are harmed in the process.
On the other hand, if the industry wants a permit to build a facility or dig a coal mine, it wants the same bureaucracy not to consider alternatives or climate impacts or anything that would slow down the project, especially inputs from affected communities.
The new inflation reduction law passed through Congress and became law after the Senate leadership secured a key vote from Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) – with the agreement of a collateral agreement on ” allow reforms “seen by many as an opportunity for soft sector regulation. Meanwhile, the White House has appointed Richard Revesz as administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the United States Office of Management and Budget, where he would lead the federal regulatory review process.
With these recent events, I believe the Biden administration is unnecessarily undermining its climate and social goals. The industry will win and the public will lose.
The vague Manchin side agreement on “allowing reform” is apparently based on a document from the American Petroleum Institute.. This proposal ignores the seven National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and regulatory changes since 2015 and promises more confusion and less public input into projects that have both positive and negative impacts. Although most of the project delays are caused by local opposition not just NIMBYs (those who shout “not in my backyard”) but zoning restrictions, local elected officials, supply chain problems and inadequate funding . Instead, the proposal targets NEPA and its need to consider – not reduce, but only consider – climate impacts and public comments.
If the draft “authorization reform” is correct, the proposals attempt to trample public opinion and the climate by hindering the title page of Biden’s agenda.
The other problem on the horizon is an attempt to pause the pedal of implementing the Biden agenda by using the flawed “science” of cost-benefit analysis to slow Biden’s proposed implementation rules.
The regulatory process
Past administrations, Democratic and Republican, pushed by Congress and fueled by industry lobbyists, have made the regulatory process so time-consuming and insidious that public health and safety have been sacrificed. Public safeguards have been weakened or abandoned to the false claim of regulatory burdens on the economy. It takes a decade for the simplest safety work regulation to take effect, and most environmental regulations require more than one administration to complete. When Congress passes a law and tells agencies to implement it, four years shouldn’t count as warp speed.
The regulatory labyrinth
The regulatory process for a typical rule with a cost of $ 100 million (without considering any benefit yet, if it has a $ 1 billion lead, the whole process has yet to be adhered to) enters an Alice in Wonderland world of a statutory and non – regulatory process that requires numerous steps of questionable value. The key issue is cost-benefit analysis.
Cost-benefit analysis is the art or fantasy of predicting the future based on limited data. Imagine the number of variables in a new gas mileage requirement or moving air source rule, a rule that could impact millions of individual decisions by consumers and businesses. Other technical issues, such as discounting future benefits, appear to be designed to undermine government efforts to address future problems such as climate change or the value of future lives.
How much is an IQ point worth, in dollars?
In many cases, particularly in the environmental area, the benefits are nearly impossible to monetize (mathematically or ethically) such as the dollar value of a child’s IQ, per point, to assess whether it is worth removing lead from pipes. water. (More per point for males than females because males earn more than females.) In many cases, as Temple University Law Professor Amy Sinden points out, the solution in the cost-benefit process is to assume that those benefits are zero. even in cases such as removing toxic substances from the air was the specific intent of the law. Ultimately, in many cases, despite the best efforts of government officials, the costs are exaggerated and the benefits discounted.
Cost-benefit analysis is such a problematic science that when proponents do the rare “retrospective review” to look back at the predictive quality of past cost-benefit studies, they are forced to admit that past data was often inadequate or has too many variables. . If they can’t look back, how can they look forward? Ironically, cost-benefit studies would fail a cost-benefit test.
One of the academic proponents of this bankruptcy policy is Revesz, who was chosen by the White House to be the regulatory czar at the Office of Management and Budget. Undoubtedly, this candidate will have no problem gaining Republican support for his appointment, while persuading progressives to support a return to a cost-benefit state. But it was a failed state.
Revesz is probably aware of many of the equity issues involved in cost-benefit analysis, such as his neglect of distributive effects among low-income communities. However, all of their solutions will mean more questionable analysis and even more delays.
Redundancy of regulatory standards
Cost-benefit downgrading does not make legal requirements arbitrary. As University of Chicago law professor Daniel Faber noted in his critique of an article Revesz co-authored on using cost-effectiveness to protect the environment, most health and environmental laws have balancing requirements: some that promote worker safety over costs and others that put a strong emphasis on costs at risk. By superimposing cost-benefit on the legal requirements it makes the whole process more complicated and easier for the anti-regulatory forces to prevail.
The President and the Democratic leadership of Congress must call a pause and consider whether it makes sense to curtail NEPA and its climate analysis and encourage bureaucratic processes to slow down the necessary safety, health, environmental and headline regulations on everything Biden wants to accomplish.
Scott Slesinger is a former lobbyist and legislative director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Him previously he served as a staff member in the House, Senate, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Legislative Affairs and Enforcement.