Trump’s own budget office admits Obama-era regulations brought billions in benefits

Keith Zukowski

What do you do when a new report undermines a narrative you’ve used to forcefully promote your agenda? You release it on a Friday evening with minimal media outreach, hoping nobody takes notice.

At least, that’s what the Trump administration did with a recent report discrediting his administration’s claim that federal protections impose debilitating costs on our economy and society.

The report, written by the White House’s own Office of Management and Budget, showed that federal regulations in place between 2006 and 2016 brought between $287 billion and $911 billion in benefits – dramatically outweighing costs of between $78 billion and $115 billion.

In sum, the regulations offered a staggering net benefit of up to $833 billion.

Figures like that would make any prudent chief executive gasp and fawn. Instead, the Trump administration has kept practically mum about the report while continuing to promote a fictitious view of the effect federal safeguards have on Americans.

That, of course, doesn’t mean the report will go away.

Pruitt digs his heels in

The same Friday evening the OMB report came out, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt gave a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, touting the repeal of 22 environmental and public health regulations he claimed would save the nation $1 billion.

The EPA chief did not mention the benefits of those rules, nor the role they played keeping people healthy and safe. In Pruitt’s twisted calculus, the equation is simple: Regulations are bad, without exception.

As the OMB report shows, however, such protections provide net savings many times over by limiting health and social costs, while boosting  community and private revenues. Examples of this at the EPA, so often the target of Pruitt’s own deregulatory attacks, are abundant.

Policies cited in the report for which benefits outweigh costs include heavy-duty truck emissions, cross-state air pollution, landfills, natural gas emissions – and the list goes on. Among the benefits of those regulations: fewer deaths, asthma attacks and debilitating cardiovascular conditions; lower rates of cancer; and healthier, happier American communities.

A history of inflated “costs”

There’s a long history of “sky is falling” claims about costs from environmental and public health protections.

For instance, a business roundtable of the American CEO Association argued that 1990 Clean Air Act amendments would assert a financial burden of $104 billion. In reality, the actual cost was about $20 billion, not accounting for the remarkable health protections and benefits that the amendments afford.

Another estimate by the automobile industry claimed standards to address pollution from cars would impose a cost of $432 per vehicle, when the real cost was $88.

The Trump administration takes a one-sided view of the subject that does not in good faith consider the remarkable benefits that smart policies offer. Interestingly, there’s now a report showing exactly what such policies bring to keep our families and communities safe – even, if for now, Trump’s White House wants to bury it.

What happens now?

The OMB report is now in the hands of Congress, where some members will likely look at it and maybe use it, while others just pretend it doesn’t exist or even question the report’s underlying data.

Those of us who want to keep our families and communities safe and healthy, meanwhile, can use it as more evidence as we fight back against the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back America’s bedrock environmental protections.

The facts, validated byTrump’s own budget office, are on our side.


Please send me a link or address to get a copy of this OMB report.
Thank you for your article and work.

Daniel schepis
March 6, 2018 at 2:55 pm

Can you tell us what the name of the report is and provide a link to it?

Colleen MacDonald
March 6, 2018 at 6:09 pm

Hi Daniel and Colleen. You can find the report here:

Karin Rives
March 12, 2018 at 10:22 am

In reply to by Colleen MacDonald

So the administration’s own OMB study documents that enrironmental and public health regulations actually pay for themselves when their savings are factored into the cost/benefit equation. If the facts don’t fit with your ideology, just suppress the reports you you don’t like.

Barbara Miller
March 7, 2018 at 12:54 pm

It's imperative to regulate clean air and water. It matters to every person who lives on our planet. I want my kids and grandkids to grow and thrive in our country and not sacrifice our health so corporations and rich people get richer. This shouldn't even be an issue.Let's quit trying to go back to reliving our past mistakes.

Kayron Garstka
March 7, 2018 at 1:56 pm

I am a 67-year-old male. In 1957, a man came to our house selling bomb shelters. My dad told him that world pollution would end our way of life before [we’d ever be] using a bomb shelter. Looks like he was right.

charley kuhn
March 8, 2018 at 11:57 am

Misrepresentation as usual

Melanie Fisk
March 8, 2018 at 5:58 pm

Trump likes to deal off the bottom of the deck. He can not be trusted if the info fails to support his propaganda. He surrounds himself with people who will toady up to him or are worse. Good examples are Pruitt, DeVoss, several more of his cabinet members.

Clifford W. Haugen
March 10, 2018 at 4:01 pm

Thanks for nudging us! Arlene Woo

March 11, 2018 at 4:48 pm

The Trump Administration seems to have a death wish policy for America's environment. Is this negligence, carelessness, fatalism or just plain stupidity (?) because it certainly makes nil economic sense in the long term - quite the opposite.

Mike Harrington
March 12, 2018 at 7:33 am

Mud, There are regulations and there are regulations. I break regulations down into two groups. Those that protect the consumer and those that protect industry from external and even internal competition and costs like recalls. Just removing regulation is ridiculous, the regulations that protect the consumer ensure standards are met. Standards and ensuring improving standards are paramount in moving forward, progressing. So, not all regulations are bad, especially consumer protection. Just removing all regulations will reduce standards. And industry will first want regulations that cost them money removed in the auto industry this would be FE targets, safety, recalls, etc. This all costs them money.

March 21, 2018 at 10:18 pm

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