Reviews of Cost/Benefit Analyses

EPA Rarely Reviews Costs/Benefits Of Existing Regulations, GAO Says in Report. Daily Environment Report, September 21, 1999, ppA-5-6.

The Environmental Protection Agency does not review the costs and benefits of its existing regulations often, according to a report released by the General Accounting Office, despite a presidential order that recommends doing so. Only five of the 101 "economically significant" regulations promulgated by the agency between 1981 and 1988 were ever reviewed retrospectively.

According to Executive Order No. 12866, agencies are directed to prepare cost/benefit analyses for economically significant regulations, and to review regulations periodically. While the agency agrees that such retrospective reviews could be valuable, according to the report, it is difficult to get the necessary data from the regulated community to complete them. An agency response to the report also emphasized that the number of reviews that could be conducted would necessarily be small unless Congress provided additional funds for them.

The report recommended that the EPA administrator establish a plan for conducting the reviews and identifying which regulations should be reviewed. GAO began the investigation at the request of Rep. Bud Shuster (R-PA) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). The report is entitled "Environmental Protection: Assessing the Impacts of EPA's Regulations Through Retrospective Studies."

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