EPA Aims to Scrap Unneeded Rules Through Regulatory Review

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans 31 regulatory reviews, including how to improve estimates of industry costs, after scrapping a definition of milk as oil that forced farmers to meet petroleum-spill rules.

The EPA’s April decision to exclude the dairy industry from rules on oil spills is an example of the kinds of changes the agency seeks, Cass Sunstein, director of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, said in an interview. The exemption will save farms and milk factories $146 million a year, according to a White House fact sheet.

President Barack Obama has ordered agencies to eliminate regulations that stifle job creation. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the biggest U.S. business lobby, said the EPA effort falls short because the agency failed to re-examine the rules considered most onerous for companies.

“About 20 new rules have come out in the last year-and-a-half and the review doesn’t really address any of those and they are the ones that will have the most impact on the economy,” Bill Kovacs, the chamber’s senior vice president of environment, technology and regulatory affairs, said today in an interview. “It doesn’t seem they will take on the tough issues.”

The Washington-based chamber has said Obama’s EPA is issuing more major rules, or those costing industry at least $100 million, than any administration in at least three decades.

Industrial Boilers

Kovacs said he didn’t understand why the EPA didn’t include its rule on emission limits for industrial boilers in its review. The EPA said last week that it will delay the new standards so it can make changes.

The EPA said today that its regulatory review will include re-examining the cost estimates of five rules. A goal of the project is to determine whether any “systematic biases” exist in EPA cost projections developed before a regulation is issued, the agency said. The EPA didn’t identify which five rules would be studied.

House Republican lawmakers and Representative Jim Matheson, a Utah Democrat, are pushing legislation that would require an interagency analysis of some EPA regulations.

The EPA’s review includes a proposal to eliminate a mandate in some states for vapor-recovery systems at gas stations, which the agency said would save about $670 million during the next 10 years. The EPA will also consider changes to obligatory labeling for hazardous materials.

Most Complaints

The EPA led U.S. agencies in complaints when more than 200 U.S. businesses and industry groups responded to an invitation from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to identify federal rules to investigate. Of 111 measures cited by companies, 57 were issued by the EPA, according to copies of the letters obtained by Bloomberg in February.

The agency declined to give a cost estimate of how much money may be saved as a result of the regulatory reviews.

“It’s not possible to predict cost savings for each review before the agency has had the opportunity to review the underlying science, technology and/or economics,” the EPA said in a statement.

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