EPA Withholds Critical Data about New Power Plant Rules

August 27, 2014

By Eric Peterson

President Obama’s beleaguered Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has faced much criticism for the wide-reaching rules on power plants it recently proposed. American families and businesses are rightly worried that this new proposed rule would hurt economic growth and job creation and provide little if any benefit. Last week bought another of challenge to the new rules.

The Clean Air Act has mandatory reporting requirements on all new potential regulations by the EPA specifying the methodology the EPA used in their report. This is an essential part of the proposal process as it allows states and third parties to evaluate the scientific claims of any EPA proposal. Alarmingly, the EPA omitted 84 percent of the modeling of which the report relied, ensuring no one could look further in depth into the EPA’s methodology. Whether this was an error of omission or error of convenience; the EPA not providing this information certainly helps shield their claims about the new proposed rule from scrutiny.

These proposed regulations are likely to be the largest and mostly costly regulations the EPA has proposed since the EPA’s New Source Performance Standards. Furthermore the Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) recently found the Regulatory Impact Analyses (RIA) of the costs and benefits of these proposed regulations lacking to say the least.  According to the GAO: “Without improvements in its estimates, EPA’s RIA’s may be limited in their usefulness for helping decisions makers and the public understand these important effects”. One such example egregious example, the EPA cited a study that was over 20 years old when doing their cost benefit analysis.

This startling lack of transparency shows a troubling tendency within the EPA and also in federal agencies in general. While proposing regulations that will raise electricity rates on all Americans as well as destroy thousands of jobs, it fails to provide information to the American people who will be forced to live under these new rules.

Thankfully, the states are beginning to push back: Attorney generals from 13 states recently sent a letter to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy requesting these disastrous regulations be withdrawn for failing to comply with federal law by not disclosing the methodology. They argue that the EPA broke the law by not disclosing this crucial information.  The 13 Attorney Generals who signed onto this letter asking for the EPA laws to be withdrawn should be applauded for their efforts to delay the implementation of these damaging rules.

But delays won’t go far enough in pushing back on these damaging rules. It’s up to Americans to not only demand transparency from unaccountable government bureaucracies but also prevent the implementation of these new standards.

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