Counting Benefits at the High Court

Editor’s Note: EPA benefit-cost analyses comply with the requirements of Data Quality Act including OMB’s peer review standards. See here and here.

From: RegBlog | Penn Program on Regulation

A coalition of coal companies, coal-fired power plants, and coal-friendly states recently argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that the system of evaluating regulations that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has used under presidents of both parties, across four decades, should be altered. The case, Michigan v. EPA, challenges the EPA’s rule finalizing the mercury and air toxics standards (MATS), which regulate toxic emissions from power plants.


Under President George W. Bush, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) updated guidance for the EPA and other federal agencies to “standardiz[e] the way benefits and costs of Federal regulatory actions are measured,” and directed agencies to use the “same standards” for assessing indirect and direct benefits. Likewise, the EPA’s own peer-reviewed guidelines for writing regulations direct the agency to look at “all identifiable costs and benefits,” including both direct effects “as well as ancillary [indirect] benefits and costs.”

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