EDF, Allies Strongly Support EPA Revoking Trump-Era Rule that Distorted Benefits of Clean Air Protections

June 16, 2021
Sharyn Stein, 202-905-5718, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – June 16, 2021) EDF joined nine other public interest organizations this week to support EPA’s efforts to undo a Trump-era rule that left millions of Americans at greater risk from dangerous air pollution and more severe climate change.

In the waning days of its term, the Trump EPA issued a Benefit-Cost Rule that would have made it harder to protect people from dangerous air pollution by distorting how the agency evaluates the benefits that Clean Air Act protections would deliver. Last month EPA Administrator Michael Regan issued an interim rule revoking the Trump-era rule and asked for comments from the public.

EDF and its allies filed a letter with EPA strongly supporting the interim rule.

“The Benefit-Cost Rule failed to acknowledge either the lifesaving benefits of Clean Air Act protections or the severe health harms from air pollution that overburdened communities continue to experience,” the groups say in their letter. “The rule also set arbitrary, unscientific criteria that limited EPA’s consideration of certain types of benefits, without applying comparable restrictions on considering costs. Its requirements would lead to misleading assessments with inaccurately low estimates of benefits, potentially obstructing critically needed public health protections.”

The groups urged EPA to follow up its interim action with a final rule to permanently rescind “this dangerous and unnecessary measure.”

EDF was joined on the letter by Clean Air Task Force, Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Environmental Protection Network, Institute for Policy Integrity, League of Conservation Voters, Moms Clean Air Force, Sierra Club and Union of Concerned Scientists.

EDF and five allies also filed separate legal and technical comments with EPA, and EDF Legal Fellow Ashley Maiolatesi spoke at a public hearing in support of the rescission last week.

EPA’s review of the Trump-era Benefit-Cost Rule concluded that the rule lacked a rational basis, would have limited EPA’s ability to rely on the best available science, and was not authorized under the Clean Air Act. Multiple analyses have shown that the health and environmental benefits of Clean Air Act protections vastly outweigh the costs. EPA has valued these benefits at more than $2 trillion annually, estimating that benefits between 1990 and 2020 exceeded costs by a factor of at least 30 to 1.

By rescinding the Trump-era rule, EPA removes unnecessary barriers to accounting for the full suite of life-saving benefits, and will be able to rigorously consider public health and environmental benefits when developing future Clean Air Act protections.

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