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Comments to EPA on Evaluating Existing Regulations

We recently submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) regarding its obligation to evaluate existing regulations and identify some for repeal, replacement, or modification under Executive Order 13,777. Our comments are meant to ensure that EPA stays focused on its objective to identify outdated, unnecessary, ineffective, or net-costly regulations for repeal, replacement, or modification and does not prioritize recently promulgated and overwhelmingly cost-benefit justified rules, some of which have been targeted by industry commenters.

Our comments make four points: First, retrospective review should prioritize reanalysis of regulations for which actual costs and benefits diverge significantly from predicted costs and benefits because of changing economic circumstances, new technological innovations, or emerging scientific understandings. EPA should not rely on the volume of opposition. Second, EPA should reaffirm that estimates of health and environmental benefits used in recent regulatory impact analyses remain the best available estimates. Third, despite claims from other stakeholders that regulations have a negative impact on employment, regulations in fact have little impact on aggregate employment or unemployment rates. Finally, EPA should modify 40 C.F.R. § 122.4(i) to more clearly authorize water quality trading under the Clean Water Act. This modification, which has the potential to save industry significant compliance costs without sacrificing any environmental quality protections, is as an example of the type of rule that EPA should prioritize under Executive Order 13,777.