The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been ordered to issue job-killing regulations that the agency and industry both agree are faulty and unfeasible. The EPA’s blunder is an object lesson on the costly consequences of reckless rulemaking and regulatory excess.
The impending regulations address emissions from industrial boilers and incinerators.
Agency officials have projected that the new standards will kill (yes, kill!) between 5,000 and 10,000 jobs—and cost nearly $10 billion to implement. In contrast, an independent study by IHS Global Insight, an economic forecasting firm, determined that 16,000 jobs would be at risk for every $1 billion spent on compliance.
Proposed last year, the rules provoked an outpouring of protest from commercial and institutional facilities. The EPA evidently agreed and sought to revise the rules and delay implementation. According to the EPA, the 4,800 comments filed by industry “shed new light on a number of key areas, including the scope and coverage of the rules and the way to categorize the various boiler types.”
In other words, the agency screwed up. Consequently, EPA officials in December 2010 sought court approval to delay issuing the rules in order to revise them. However, the Sierra Club opposed the request, and Judge Paul Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the agency to implement the regulations by February 21, 2011.
All of which means the economy is about to take another unnecessary regulatory hit. As it is, the EPA alone last year added some $10 billion to the $1.75 trillion in annual regulatory costs. Officials say they intend to revise the boiler rules, but a meaningful overhaul is unlikely in light of the looming deadline. Had the agency exercised reasonable, fact-based rulemaking from the start, thousands of jobs would not now be in jeopardy.