Epa Pats Itself on the Back: Epa's Assessment of its Own Clean Air Program
Posted: 18 Apr 2001
Government studies of regulations designed to protect health, safety, and the environment are inherently self-serving. The same agencies that evaluate performance also design and administer the very regulatory programs that they are evaluating. EPA's 1997 report on rules issued from 1970 to 1990 gave a "best estimate" of net benefits of $22 trillion-roughly the aggregate net worth of all U.S. households in 1990. (No professional economist independent of EPA takes that estimate seriously.) In the 1999 sequel to its 1997 report, EPA gave a "central" estimate of $83 billion for the net annual benefit in 2010. EPA's reports to Congress vividly illustrate the inadequacy of self-evaluations of federal regulatory programs. Congress should abandon the self-evaluation model and establish an independent analytical agency to review the costs and benefits of regulatory policies and programs.
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