The TRAIN Act: A Radical Deregulatory Plan, Even Before the Amendments

by Ben Somberg

September 22, 2011

Today the House is taking up debate on the “TRAIN Act”, a sweeping anti-regulatory bill that would serve to gum up the works at agencies that work to protect our health and the environment.

The bill was bad to start with; then it became a true circus, with all sorts of regulation-blocking amendments being tacked on (See NRDC, and NRDC). An amendment offered by Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) would completely rewrite the Clean Air Act, forcing the EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQSs) based partly on what is best for industry’s bottom line, rather than what is best for public health. With this change, Americans would never know whether the air they are breathing is truly healthy.

The base bill requires the EPA to conduct a new detailed study of the various economic impacts of several of its rules. The study elements range from duplicative to impossible. Duplicative, because the economic impacts of the individual rules have already been studied. Impossible, because TRAIN would also require analysis of the cumulative impact of rules on the power industry far into the future, requiring unknowable information: the cost of energy in 20 years; how regulations that haven’t even been written yet will indirectly affect jobs; and so on. The primary goal: paralysis by analysis.

Removed from the discussion, purposefully of course, is any discussion of the benefits of the rules.

The White House’s Statement of Administration Policy threatening a veto rightly noted that the bill requires “costly, unnecessary, and redundant reports.” For more on the TRAIN Act, see CPR President Rena Steinzor’s testimony on the bill from its legislative hearing in April.

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