Press Releases

News from EPI EPI reports clarify economic impact of new EPA rules as House begins debates on regulations

For Immediate Release: Monday, September 19, 2011
Contact: Phoebe Silag or Karen Conner, 202-775-8810

The Combined Effect of the Obama EPA Rules, the only comprehensive tally of the combined costs and benefits of the new major Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules, debunks arguments that their cumulative impact would harm the struggling economy.  The paper, by Economic Policy Institute (EPI) Director of Regulatory Policy Research Isaac Shapiro, released today by EPI, shows the regulations formulated by the Obama Administration will be of tremendous benefit to public health, and the combined compliance cost of the rules – both finalized and proposed – amounts to only about 0.1 percent of the economy, and thus are not a significant factor in the overall economy’s direction.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has characterized many of these new EPA rules as “regulatory burdens to job creators” and has scheduled a series of votes, beginning this week, aimed at halting them. This latest research from EPI explains that Cantor’s characterization of these rules is inaccurate.  EPI’s research finds that the dollar value of the benefits of the major rules finalized or proposed by the EPA so far during the Obama administration exceeds the rules’ costs by an exceptionally wide margin. Health benefits in terms of lives saved and illnesses avoided will be enormous.  EPI also finds that the costs of all finalized and proposed rules total to a tiny sliver of the overall economy, suggesting that fears that these rules together will deter economic progress are unjustified.

In addition to the new findings in The Combined Effect of the Obama EPA Rules, the findings in A lifesaver, not a job killer by EPI economist Josh Bivens, published in June 2011, reveal EPA’s proposed “air toxics rule” is no threat to job growth, and would instead lead to modest job creation.  The House may vote to delay this vital rule this week. Further, a broader assessment of the impact regulations have on jobs and the economy, Regulation, employment, and the economy: Fears of job loss are overblown by  Shapiro and EPI research director John Irons, published in April 2011, finds that regulations generally have a modestly positive or neutral effect on the economy,  and that an emphasis on deregulation can contribute to dramatic economic dislocation.

The Combined Effect of the Obama EPA Rules calculates the dollar value of the benefits and costs of new EPA rules, expressed in 2010 dollars, including the following:

  • Setting aside the Cross-State Air Pollution rule, the combined annual benefits from all finalmajor rules exceed their costs by $10 billion to $95 billion a year. The benefit/cost ratio ranges from 2-to-1 to 20-to-1.
  • The net benefits from the Cross-State Air Pollution rule exceed $100 billion a year (this rule is treated separately because benefits accruing from action under the Bush administration and the Obama administration cannot be disentangled).
  • The combined annual benefits from three major proposed rules examined here exceed their costs by $62 billion to $188 billion a year. The benefit/cost ratio ranges from 6-to-1 to 15-to-1.
  • When fully in effect in 2014, the combined costs of the major rules finalized by the Obama administration’s EPA would amount to significantly less than 0.1% of the economy.
  • Assuming the proposed rules are also finalized, when fully in effect in 2016 the combined costs of the major EPA rules finalized and proposed so far under the Obama administration would amount to about 0.13% of the economy.