Obama: Benefits of environmental regulations outweigh costs

The executive order is an effort by the president to extend an olive branch to industry and business groups, who in recent weeks have ratcheted up their criticism of the administration’s regulatory agenda. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country’s largest business group, has consistently referred to the administration’s agenda as a “regulatory tsunami” and called for a broad review of agency rules.

Obama is defending regulations issued by his administration from criticism from the Chamber and other groups that have argued they are a threat to the economic recovery.

In his op-ed, Obama specifically mentioned the administration’s new fuel economy standards as an example of a regulation that was developed through a collaborative and inclusive process.

“The EPA and the Department of Transportation worked with auto makers, labor unions, states like California, and environmental advocates this past spring to turn a tangle of rules into one aggressive new standard,” Obama said. “It was a victory for car companies that wanted regulatory certainty; for consumers who will pay less at the pump; for our security, as we save 1.8 billion barrels of oil; and for the environment as we reduce pollution.”

But Obama is not letting every regulation off the hook. The president took aim at a longstanding Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that categorized saccharin, an artificial sweetener, as a hazardous waste. “Well, if it goes in your coffee, it is not hazardous waste,” he said, noting that the agency overturned the rule last month.

Notably absent in the op-ed is any mention of the executive order's impact on EPA’s upcoming climate regulations, though Obama does name Clean Air Act regulations, as one of a number of "common sense rules of the road." The regulations will be a major target this year of Republicans, who won a majority in the House and gained numbers in the Senate.

In an interview with The Hill last month, Karen Harbert, president of the Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, called for an accounting of the economic impact of every Obama administration regulation.

“Before we continue to pile on regulation, we at the very minimum should know what is currently being proposed would impose in terms of cost to the consumer,” she said. “Nobody has polled all of those different rules together and been able to do a thorough analysis of them as they continue to promulgate out of EPA.”

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