The Epa's Faustian Bargain
7 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2006
When Congress faces a controversial choice about pollution, it generally follows a two-step plan: announce some lofty goal but not explain how the goal is to be achieved, then outsource the rulemaking to the EPA or some other federal agency so that the legislators can claim credit for protecting health while the agency bears the inevitable blame for delays, disappointments, and costs. This arrangement is a Faustian bargain for the EPA; the agency gets some power in the deal, but it is exposed to criticisms both for failing to make rules strenuous enough to protect public health and for making rules so strenuous that they are excessively costly. The EPA should decline this bargain and force Congress to make the hard decisions that it is empowered to make.
Keywords: EPA, daivd shoenbrod, clean air act, environmental protection, legislation, congress, relationship between congress and the EPA
JEL Classification: L51, L98, Q20, Q28, Q29, Q38, Q48
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