EPA’s proposal to curb emissions from the second largest source of mercury in the United States – industrial boilers and process heaters – has come under fire in recent weeks. Those industries that would be subject to the “boiler rule” have objected to its costs, and some senators have embraced their claims (see also Lisa Jackson's response). The industry story, however, leaves out important facts.
The industry story does not mention that, on balance, the estimated costs of the rule are dwarfed by the benefits it would deliver in terms of human health. According to the Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) for the rule, regulating boilers would result in societal benefits ranging from $18 billion to $45 billion, at a cost of $3.4 billion. Thus, the rule is estimated to deliver net benefits in the neighborhood of $15 billion to $41 billion. To put it another way, these estimates mean that Americans would receive five to twelve dollars in health benefits for every dollar spent to meet the proposed standards.
The benefits accounted for by these numbers reflect real impacts for real people – including some 2,000 to 5,100 fewer premature deaths among us each year; 1,400 fewer …
Back in the 1970s, when many of the great environmental, health, and safety statutes were adopted, public interest groups shared an overwhelming optimism that greater public participation held the key to maintaining—and even expanding upon—their successes. All they needed was a seat at the table where decisions are made, and their ideas would ultimately prevail. At first, they were right—public interest groups were able to advance their cause through participation in the regulatory process. But before long, regulated industry discovered that they could beat public interest groups at their own game by using their superior resources. The number of “public input” tables grew, and each increasingly became filled with more and more industry groups, while the seats for public interest groups often go empty. If the public interest groups are able to be present, they are often drowned out.
Once a dream, public participation …
CPR Member Scholar Daniel Farber and Richard Frank, both of BerkeleyLaw, have an op-ed in the LA Times today on Proposition 23, the ballot initiative that would suspsend California's climate law, AB 32. They argue:
For California to retreat on the climate issue now would send a defeatist message nationally and worldwide. It's true that other climate measures would remain on the books, but suspending AB 32 would be like benching a football team's quarterback while leaving the other players leaderless on the field.