EPA did not follow guidance when discussing impact of regulations, GAO says

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 8/21/2014

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency played a bit fast and loose with federal guidance when estimating and communicating the effects of its regulations on society, the Government Accountability Office has found.

The GAO issued some recommendations to the EPA after examining the way the agency promoted its greenhouse gas emissions clampdown for trucks and a handful of other rulemakings. Recommendations include stricter adherence to the official guidance from the Office of Management and Budget for developing cost-benefit analysis and other criteria for rulemakings.

In general terms, the GAO found that the EPA adhered to most of the existing guidance, but lacked consistency when justifying its cost-benefit analysis of its regulations and explaining its justifications in a clear manner the public could understand.

In one instance, the EPA was using 20-year-old employment data to justify its impact of rules on society, something that caught the attention of lawmakers who commissioned the GAO study.

U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, who commissioned the study, issued a joint statement to criticize the methods used by the EPA to justify its actions.

“The independent study released (Aug. 11) demonstrates that the Obama Administration failed to provide thorough, transparent cost-benefit analyses for major environmental rules that cost American jobs,” Issa stated.

“Rather than using a fair and open rulemaking process, EPA pushed through regulations using sloppy analysis without sufficiently informing Congress or the public of the economic impact.”

The EPA is one of the agencies responsible for bringing forth rules on greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

OOIDA recently submitted comments on the latest proposal by the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to further decrease truck emissions and increase fuel economy for trucks and trailers beyond model year 2018.

“Whether it’s diesel engine rules or the EPA/NHTSA regulatory action on fuel economy and greenhouse gas, OOIDA has been very consistent in saying the agencies need to look at real-world perspectives and real-world costs of its regulations that small-business truckers are forced to bear,” OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Ryan Bowley said.

“They need to consider the unintended consequences such as downtime and equipment repairs and understand that those are real costs to small businesses,” he said.
Bowley said OOIDA looks forward to engaging with the EPA to provide the small-business perspective.

“When regulations are put in place for the trucking industry, it’s critical that the agencies developing and issuing those regulations recognize that the vast majority of trucking is small businesses, and it’s the small businesses who feel the regulatory burden the most,” he said.

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