Assessing the Environmental Laws and Policies Weakened in Response to Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic has led federal, state, and municipal policymakers to adopt a number of measures that suspended, delayed, or relaxed a variety of environmental safeguards. Our report analyzes these pandemic-related policy shifts and their impacts on public health and the environment. We also provide guidance on how agencies can increase transparency about these actions, counteract detrimental effects, and preemptively create guidelines to improve responses in a future emergency.
85 Fed. Reg. 64,650 (Oct. 13, 2020)
In its analysis of the 2020 Steam Electric Reconsideration Rule, the Environmental Protection Agency failed to adequately provide quantitative estimates for numerous harms from steam electric power plants' wastewater streams and drew conclusions about the rule’s impacts that are undermined by a fair assessment of unquantified impacts. Our report identifies flaws in the 2020 Rule and details changes the agency can make to significantly improve its benefit-cost analysis.
This issue brief summarizes EPA's enforcement and compliance policy in light of COVID-19, describing its significance and clarifying its contours. The policy opens the door to potentially problematic and harmful actions, especially on a short-term basis.
The Concealed Costs of the Clean Water Rule Rollback
In restricting the scope of the Clean Water Act through two regulatory rollbacks, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers claim that the estimated compliance-cost savings exceed the environmental harms (in the form of forgone benefits). Yet these analyses suffer from severe methodological flaws. And correcting the analyses would very likely show that the rollbacks are net costly to society, depriving the public of potentially billions of dollars in annual forgone benefits. As detailed in this report, the agencies’ failure to meaningfully assess the substantial harms that will result from their rollbacks violates both regulatory precedent and the agencies’ legal obligations.
This casebook emphasizes environmental policy, as well as the structure and details of the federal environmental statutes. It focuses students’ attention on how tradeoffs between environmental goals and social goals are resolved in different and difficult contexts. The book has been updated to reflect new developments in the law of natural resource management, water pollution, and climate change.
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