The House Rules Committee held a hearing today on the TRAIN Act, the purpose of which is to analyze the cumulative impact of regulations passed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Environmental supporters oppose the bill, including the President who has threatened to veto the bill.
The full name of the legislation is the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011 (H.R. 2401). Proponents of the TRAIN Act argue that environmental regulations, which have of late been coming at an increased rate, are stifling to the economy, create uncertainty in the business community, and hamper job creation.
That may be partially true, yet most reasonable people understand that a cost-only analysis is useless. Opponents of the bill argue that the bill directs regulatory reviewers to focus on economic impacts rather than benefits. Even though the language of the bill says that both costs and benefits should be examined, the list of factors the bill specifically says must be examined are all economic indicators. No benefits are mentioned.
Environmental defenders have not been fooled by the obvious intent of the bill. One such defender, Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL), has a proposed amendment to the bill that would correct its lopsided approach and require regulatory review to include benefits as well as costs. In his testimony, for example, Mr. Rush noted that environmental regulations have actually created millions of jobs, which must also be included in any analysis.
The bill was presented to the committee by Ed Whitfield (R-KY), who argued that the EPA’s cost-benefit analysis is in itself lopsided in favor of adding up benefits without properly examining economic costs. If that is the case, argued Jared Polis (D-CO), why not fix the EPA’s procedure rather than implementing a bureaucratic review process after the fact. No answer to this was given.
At one point in the hearing, Mr. Whitfield was asked who signed the Clean Air Act, and he wrongly guessed George W. Bush (referring to the first one). Even if he didn’t know the answer directly, he should have known by the full titleÂ—Clean Air Amendments of 1970Â—that Nixon was president at the time. It seems like someone who is advocating for greater precision in the deliverance of regulations could get closer than four presidents away from who actually signed the bill that creates the regulations in question.