EPA's Updated MATS Analysis Kicks Off Co-Benefit Debate

EPA co-benefits graphic

Key Development: The EPA's final cost and benefit analysis for its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, expected next month, could open the door for new challenges to the agency's practice of including reductions in pollutants that are not directly regulated when tallying the economic impact of rules.

With a skeptical Chief Justice John Roberts already questioning the practice, attorneys say the new MATS analysis, required after the U.S. Supreme Court found the agency failed to properly consider compliance costs when issuing the rule, opens up a new front to challenge the use of “co-benefits” when accounting for a rule's impact on public health.

Potential Impact: The EPA has touted the significant public health benefits provided by reducing pollutants—often particulate matter—that are not directly regulated as part of its greenhouse gas regulations or its new, more stringent ozone standards. A court decision limiting the use of co-benefits could skew the EPA's analysis of its regulations going forward, narrowing the gap between costs to industry and the benefits touted by the agency.

What's Next: The EPA's updated MATS analysis is expected in April.

Bloomberg BNA reporters Patrick Ambrosio and Andrew Childers have the story for subscribers.