New Trump EPA Rule Manipulates Benefit-Cost Analysis to Undermine Public Health Protections

Statement by Rachel Cleetus, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Dec 9, 2020

WASHINGTON (December 9, 2020)—The Environmental Protection Administration is set to release a final rule significantly altering how the agency analyzes the benefits and costs of its policies. The new rule would purposefully diminish or obscure many of the benefits of public health protections and downplay the harmful health impacts of pollution, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Enacting the rule is itself a radical departure from prior best practices, and its provisions are a direct attack on the agency’s ability to carry out its mission to protect public health.

Below is a statement by Rachel Cleetus, policy director for the Climate and Energy Program at UCS.

“This new rule has no scientific, public health, economic or legal justification, and is a sharp break with past precedent. It’s aimed purely at rigging the rulemaking process in favor of polluters. The EPA’s political leaders are directing the agency’s staff to ignore benefits and undervalue human health, making it harder for the agency to protect people, but cheaper and easier for powerful industries to pollute our air with impunity.

“The EPA’s mission is to protect human health and the environment. The new rule is a deliberate, targeted strike at that mission. This change doesn’t just affect a single rule—it’s a sweeping attempt to undermine air pollution protections across the board. And the consequences will be felt most severely by Black, Latinx, Indigenous and low-income communities who already bear a disproportionate burden from pollution. This rule is designed to reward polluters and push the costs onto the most vulnerable people—prioritizing short-term profits over human lives.

“Next year when the Biden administration takes charge, they must reverse this bad-faith rule and restore the EPA’s ability to do its job to protect the health of communities around the nation. We must be able to fully benefit from laws like the Clean Air Act, and make sure companies are held accountable for the pollution they create—quite literally, lives depend on it.”