U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler recently signed a memorandum directing staff to develop plans to reform the process of evaluating the costs and benefits of new regulations. Wheeler specifically instructed the agency’s offices governing water, land, and air quality to identify ways to make the process of evaluating the costs and benefits of regulations both more consistent and transparent.  The memorandum did not identify specific changes to be made but instructed agency leadership to use “sound economic and scientific principles.” Wheeler also wrote that he has “determined that the agency should proceed with benefit-cost reforms using a media-specific approach, taking into account the variety of statutory programs.”

The directive supports the Trump Administration’s efforts to identify regulations that impose costs that exceed benefits, providing clarity, transparency, and consistency in how regulations are written.  According to the memorandum, the proposed reforms also need to be clear as to how the offices will weigh various factors in evaluating regulations and must balance their costs and benefits evenly.  The memorandum also requires the agency’s offices to establish consistent definitions for the terms used in the EPA’s statutes and to promote the use of best practices in the data analysis the regulators use. d