On June 11, 2020, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) requesting comment on “Increasing Consistency and Transparency in Considering Costs and Benefits in the Clean Air Act Rulemaking Process” (85 FR 35612). We begin by noting we agree with the overall view presented in the NPRM that benefit-cost analysis is an important tool for EPA decisionmaking, as the government-wide policy of every president since Ronald Reagan has required it (when consistent with statute). We applaud efforts to improve the quality, consistency, and transparency of that analysis. However, some suggested policy changes in the NPRM are, in our view, contrary to best economic practice, existing law, or both, and therefore will not further the NPRM’s stated objectives. Other proposals in the NPRM, while not directly counterproductive, appear to have little discernible benefit and simply constitute a waste of government resources. Further, we support adding to this document specific provisions establishing requirements for the selection and conduct of retrospective analyses.
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