NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

EPA Overreach

October 12, 2011

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is acting like President Obama is going to be a one-term president -- meaning they need to act fast.  With this in mind, the Agency is pushing through the most expensive set of regulations in American history, says Adam Peshek, a research associate at the Reason Foundation.

Measures taken to protect the environment are necessary and welcomed.  But concerns for air quality should always be measured against the larger context of the economy and real-world achievability.  Peshek examines two current examples of EPA's neglect for this principle.

Boiler MACT.

  • "Boiler MACT" is the name given to EPA's new standards aimed at cutting emissions from boilers used in industries like manufacturing and processing and in commercial use by the likes of malls and hospitals.
  • Under the regulations, the majority of boilers will need to be retrofitted with new and costly emissions curbing technologies, with an upfront price tag of $10 billion and annual compliance costs of around $3 billion.

Picking on Texas.

  • In July, EPA finalized their Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, an updated Bush-era program that regulates emissions from power plants in states that the EPA finds "contribute significantly" with the maintenance of healthy air quality in neighboring states.
  • When the proposal was released in 2010, EPA data that showed Texas' contribution to out-of-state emissions were not high enough for inclusion.
  • But when the final rule was released in July, Texas found itself included in the program because of a hypothetical linkage between Texas emissions and a pollution monitor hundreds of miles away in Granite City, Illinois.
  • Compliance costs for this rule are estimated at $2.4 billion annually.

These are just two examples of EPA's lack of discretion when crafting major rules that affect jobs, energy costs and billions of dollars in diverted capital.  The EPA is acting like they'll be out of a job in 2013, and with this tunnel-visioned lack of restraint they have become the biggest contributor to that cause, says Peshek.

Source: Adam Peshek, "Two Examples of EPA Overreach," Reason Foundation, October 11, 2011.

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