Trump EPA’s Proposal Threatens to Distort Health Benefits of Clean Air Act Protections, EDF Testifies
(July 1, 2020) EDF joined other health and environmental organizations, conservation advocates, and scientists at a virtual hearing today to oppose the Trump EPA’s efforts to distort cost-benefit assessments for vital public health and environmental rules.
EPA proposed the change just last month. It “could skew analyses of everything from health-based air quality standards, to emission standards for vehicles and large industrial facilities, to chemical disaster prevention safeguards,” said EDF senior attorney Ben Levitan, who testified at today’s hearing.
The proposal could lead to EPA selectively ignoring certain benefits of reduced air pollution when making decisions about vital clean air safeguards. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told reporters that weighing those benefits is the equivalent of a “shell game.” Levitan strenuously disagreed in his testimony today.
“What Wheeler dismissed as a ‘shell game’ includes the prevention of up to 11,000 premature deaths — and the avoidance of other health harms, including 130,000 asthma attacks — every year. Characterizing these co-benefits as some sort of accounting trick ignores their real, vital impacts for families and communities across America,” said Levitan. “It’s especially troubling that the proposal appears to arbitrarily, and unlawfully, accord greater weight to costs than benefits, further eroding the statutory rights of those the Clean Air Act was designed to protect.”
Levitan also pointed out that EPA failed to evaluate the environmental justice impacts of the proposal on communities of color and low-income communities, in direct violation of an executive order that has been in place since 1994.
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