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Another Step for Transparency at EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced yesterday changes they’re making to regulations promulgated under the Clean Air Act. This new reform would ensure that the public would be informed of the costs and benefits of regulations under consideration. In a statement, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said, “Today’s proposed action corrects another dishonest accounting method the previous administration used to justify costly, ineffective regulations.”

Sadly, you did not misread that first paragraph. Up until this point, there was no requirement that the EPA inform the public of the costs and benefits of a proposed regulation. This created massive uncertainty for families and businesses. The only people who could truly understand how regulations might realistically impact them and their finances are those who have the time, money, and resources to do the firsthand research.

This represents the elitist nature of federal regulations. Until recently, EPA operated under a framework they also did not have to disclose the methods they used to come to scientific conclusions. Any first year college student would tell you that publishing a methodology is key to any scientifically reputable study. Findings must be replicable. Thankfully, EPA is in the process of finalizing a rule to minimize the use of “secret science” in their rulemaking. It’s so odd that the same people who oppose both sets of rulemakings are the ones that also claim to be “the party of science.”

Perhaps most importantly, this will allow bureaucrats to be held more accountable by the American people. When the EPA proposes a rulemaking, they invite the public to comment on it, ostensibly to give them a voice in the process. The lack of transparency to this point has hindered their ability to have that voice. They cannot comment on the costs and benefits, nor can they challenge the methods by which the agency came to its conclusions. It was kept behind closed doors by unelected bureaucrats paid with our taxpayer dollars.

This lack of transparency is especially disturbing when you consider the enforcement actions agencies can bring against you. The EPA actually has its own dedicated SWAT team. FreedomWorks Foundation has documented how regulatory agencies like the EPA, and others, can take your property for falling out of compliance with these rules. The least they can do is to provide as much information available to you about them. Yet, these agencies who pretend these rules are so important seem very intent on making sure you can’t understand or comply with them even if you wanted to.

These efforts to increase transparency date back to 2018 and have been a consistent theme of the Trump administration. We don’t only need to regulate less, but we also need to regulate smarter and more openly. Disclosing cost-benefit analyses and methodologies are great first steps in making sure the regulatory state is more efficient and actually serves the people instead of seeking to entrap them.