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Biden Administration to Repeal Trump Rule Geared toward Curbing E.P.A.’s Energy

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Thursday decided to repeal a Trump-era ordinance that has weakened the government’s ability to contain air pollution, which threatens public health and drives climate change.

Critics said the regulation distorted the cost of reducing air pollution while reducing the benefits associated with it. It’s one of several Trump administrative policies that have been rolled back by Michael S. Regan since he became administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency in March.

The so-called cost-benefit rule, which was passed at the end of the Trump administration, was intended to change the way the EPA calculates the economic costs and benefits of new clean air and climate change regulations. Agency economists would have been required to separately calculate the public health benefits that result directly from a new regulation and separately the value of the ancillary benefits or “fringe benefits” – for example, the reduction of pollutants that are not directly regulated by the regulation . Direct services and “ancillary services” would have to be presented as separate categories.

Experts said this requirement was designed to give industry the ability to legally block the EPA on future air pollution regulations. It would also have enabled the EPA to avoid pricing certain health benefits if the scientific evidence was viewed as limited.

“The repeal of this unnecessary and misguided rule is testament to this government’s commitment to science,” Regan said in a statement. He said his agency would “continue to fix past mistakes”.

Politics had long been sought the fossil fuel industry, which for years argued that the federal government was using unfair economic formulas that resulted in onerous pollution regulations.

When Andrew Wheeler, Trump’s second EPA administrator, finalized the policy last year, he said it would promote transparency. But he also acknowledged that it aimed to prevent future governments from imposing restrictions on toxic mercury pollution from power plants, as the Obama administration did.

The cost to industry to comply with the Mercury Regulation was more than $ 9 billion. The Obama administration justified the cost by claiming not only the benefits of reducing mercury – which would generate about $ 6 million in health care savings annually – but also the benefits of reducing sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and other pollutants caused by the installed equipment was reduced, summed up by the power plants.

By including these fringe benefits – like avoidance of hospital stays, asthma attacks, and other health problems – the total benefits reached $ 80 billion over five years. Mr. Wheeler called this table “dishonest” at the time.

In an interview with Bloomberg Law last week, Wheeler said he hoped the Biden government would adhere to the cost-benefit rule, saying, “It’s just about making things more transparent.”

Announcing the repeal, the EPA said the Trump administration’s policies “limited the EPA’s ability to use the best available science” to develop clean air regulations, saying it was “inconsistent with economic best practices “.

It has been argued that the Trump administration “has not formulated a rational basis for introducing new cost-benefit constraints” and that the new procedures would have hampered the EPA’s ability to comply with clean air laws.

Environmental activists praised the move. John Walke, director of clean air at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, noted that the Trump administration didn’t even apply the restrictions to its own policies. “Americans can now expect stronger safeguards for cleaner air and climate without unnecessary bureaucratic delays,” he said.

The announcement of the repeal was published in the federal register on Friday and will take effect after 30 days. The agency was quick to repeal the measure as it is seen as a procedural rule that has a direct impact on EPA decision-making, but not on external parties. Therefore, it doesn’t take a long time for public comments to complete before it can be completed.

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