House Republican to EPA: Double-check numbers on climate rule cost

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to double-check its figures on the cost of the administration's climate rule after a recent report faulted the agency on its analyses of regulations.

Smith, chairman of the House Science Committee, slammed the agency over the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, which he says highlights the EPA's "shoddy" analysis on the potential costs of its carbon emissions standards.

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“For too long the EPA has hidden the truth from the American people," he said in a letter to EPA chief Gina McCarthy on Wednesday. "In order to regain public trust, the agency should rely on robust, objective and well-grounded technical analysis of its climate regulations."

Flaws in recent EPA analyses amplify concerns about the real impacts of these regulations," he added.

The GAO report said the EPA did not always provide financial costs and benefits of proposed rules, and that the agency based the estimated effects of its regulations, in part, on a study that's more than two decades old.

Smith, who opposes the recent EPA proposal to cut carbon pollution from the nation's fleet of existing power plants by 30 percent over the next 16 years, said the report is further cause for concern over the regulation, which already faces legal challenges.

"Credible analysis is critical to a well-informed debate concerning climate change and energy policy chooses now before the American people," Smith writes. "As such, we are requesting that your agency analyze the proposed guidelines taking these realities into account."

The EPA stresses that the GAO report looks at only a "small subset of rules" and that it found the EPA generally follows official guidance when conducting its analyses.

"We rely on the best available information and methods to calculate both the costs and benefits of our rules and use the public comment process to further refine that work," Liz Purchia said after the report was released.