Out of Control Policy Blog

Five EPA rules that will cost [much] more than $1 billion

The Washington Examiner has outlined the 5 most expensive regulations currently proposed by the EPA:

These cost estimates are all from the EPA's own numbers:

1. The Ozone Rule - Sections 108 and 109 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) direct the EPA Administrator to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for air pollutants that “endanger public health or welfare.” In 2008 the Bush EPA set standards for smog which should last until 2013. But the Obama EPA wants to issue new standards now. According to the EPA’s own Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA), the new standards would impose $90 billion of costs on the U.S. economy annually.

2. The Coal Ash Rule - Section 3004 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requires the EPA to establish standards for hazardous waste disposal. Before the Obama administration, the EPA had never listed coal combustion residuals (CCRs) as a hazardous waste pursuant to RCRA. Power plants often sell coal ash, and other CCRS, for use in construction projects. The Obama EPA wants to regulate CCRs as a “special waste” under RCRA to prevent ground and surface water contamination. The EPA estimates the new regulations would cost $20.3 billion a year.

3. The Utility MACT Rule - Section 112 of the CAA requires the EPA to set plant-specific maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards for hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), including mercury, at power plants. EPA estimates compliance the with the new Obama standards will cost the economy $10.9 billion a year.

4. The Boiler MACT Rule - While generating electricity for factories and other facilities, boilers often emit pollutants like Mercury, Hydrogen Chloride and Carbon monoxide. Section 112 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) requires the EPA to set National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) for major stationary sources using the maximum achievable control technology (MACT). EPA pegs upfront compliance costs at $9.5 billion and annual costs at $3.2 billion. 

5. The Cross State Air Pollution Rule - Section 110 of the CAA requires the EPA to limit hazardous emissions form upwind states that make it harder for downwind states to meet their NAAQS. The EPA’s latest cross-state rule puts new limits on sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions for power plants in 27 East Coast states. EPA estimates that the regulations will cost $1.4 billion in 2012 and $.8 billion annually after that.

Since these are estimates by the EPA themselves, one should not be surprised if the costs (hidden and actual) exceed their estimates.

For more information on the EPA's most costly regulation -- ozone -- see my commentary in the Washington Times here.

Adam Peshek is Research Associate


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