Biden administration to repeal Trump-era rule aimed at curbing EPA’s power

The Biden administration moved on Thursday to repeal a rule under the previous administration that limits the government’s ability to develop regulations on air pollution, which scientists have argued drive climate change and affect public health.

The previous rule under the Trump administration was titled "Increasing Consistency and Transparency in Considering Benefits and Costs in the Clean Air Act Rulemaking Process," also known as the Benefit-Cost Rule.

Andrew Wheeler, an Environmental Protection Agency administrator under the Trump administration, finalized the policy last year, claiming that it would promote transparency and prevent other administrations from imposing restrictions. 

"Because all it is is about making things more transparent," Wheeler said last week when discussing the cost-benefit rule during an interview with Bloomberg Law.

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But the EPA argues it essentially limited the strength the agency had on future Clean Air Act regulations and air pollution controls.

The EPA reviewed the Benefit-Cost Rule and found that it "imposed procedural restrictions and requirements that would have limited EPA’s ability to use the best available science in developing Clean Air Act regulations, and would be inconsistent with economic best practices," the agency said in a press release.

The rule is one of several Trump administration policies that have been reversed by Michael S. Regan, who became the administrator of the EPA in March.

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"EPA has critical authority under the Clean Air Act to protect the public from harmful air pollution, among other threats to our health. Revoking this unnecessary and misguided rule is proof positive of this Administration’s commitment to science," said Regan. "We will continue to fix the wrongs of the past and move forward aggressively to deliver on President Biden’s clear commitment to protecting public health and the environment."

The interim final rule will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. The EPA said it will consider public comment on the rule, and intends to follow it with a final rule that responds to comments received during the public comment period, if any, and reflects any accompanying changes to the agency’s approach.