Last Friday, just in time for the Christmas holiday, EPA finalized revisions to the Boiler MACT rule. As it has done with other significant rules, EPA basically fine-tuned the existing rule, responding to some specific comments, adding a smidgen of flexibility here, and a dash of extra time to comply over there. I think that EPA deserves credit for responding to the regulated community, while still imposing rules that provide significant benefits.
Environmentalists complained that the delay will lead to additional premature deaths. The National Association of Manufacturers complained about “overly aggressive regulations.” I still don’t know what they mean by overly aggressive. EPA’s estimate is that the benefit-cost ratio for the rule is between 13:1 and 29:1. Even if EPA were off by a factor of 10, the benefits would still exceed the costs of the rule. To me, this is another example of the abandonment of cost-benefit analysis by some opposed to regulation. Instead, they look solely at the costs and, if there are enough zeros at the end, assert that those costs are “too much”, without regard to the benefits.
Perhaps surprisingly, but definitely tellingly, Congressional Republicans generally praised revisions, calling them “more workable and achievable.”
It is likely that it is actually EPA that will continue to receive lumps of coal in its collective stocking, but I think that they have earned something better.