A recent revision of the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) cost-benefit analysis in support of a proposed rule about the regulation of hazardous air pollution from coal-burning power plants proved concerning, according to a collaboration of researchers from various prestigious institutions. The researchers published their concerns in the journal Science, stating EPA "can and should do better."
The cost-benefit analysis is part of a proposal to roll back the legal groundwork of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). Power plants have been obliged to comply with MATS since 2016; the proposed rollback would make it easier for coal-burning power plants to sidestep MATS.
"If finalized, the new rule will undermine continued implementation of MATS and set a concerning precedent for use of similarly inappropriate analyses in the evaluation of other regulations," the study authors write.
The researchers summarized their concerns about the cost-benefit analysis in several key points. Eureka Alert reports them in the following way:
The team, made up of esteemed scientists from Harvard, Yale, Claremont McKenna College, UC Berkeley, Georgetown, and Resources for the Future (RFF), asserts that the analysis from the EPA "ignores scientific evidence, economic best practice, and its own guidance."
"The EPA's new analysis of the cost and benefits of the MATS rule is clearly insufficient. It fails to account for advances in our understanding of the negative health impacts of mercury and changes in electricity generation since 2011, which have led to much lower compliance costs than were originally projected," says coauthor Karen Palmer, who is an RFF Senior Fellow. "And, it dismisses an entire category of benefits."