Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Well, this is a bit awkward!  EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) reports that in 2015 and 2016 EPA paid over $1.5 million for subsidized and unoccupied parking spaces at DC headquarters and Region 4 Atlanta, the only two offices that subsidize parking.  These weren’t criticisms for employees who needed to park, either.  (Other EPA offices provide “free” parking but the OIG report doesn’t include that non-cash benefit.)  The OIG points out that a 2015 Executive Order established “a clear overarching objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions across Federal operations” encouraging agencies to “promote sustainable commuting.”  OIG found sloppy program accounting, too, with good-role-model parents apparently using their kids to qualify for car-pool spaces, which were granted even though car-pool participants didn’t list an email address on application forms, as required.  Tsk tsk… Do as we say, not as we do!
*  Someone named V V makes some thoughtful points about regulatory costs in comments to a Federal Highway docket.  V V has an interesting angle, first noting that the US GDP is around $17.6 trillion.  Then, he/she cites recent estimates that regulations cost the US economy about $1.88 trillion.  Next, some comparative figures: $2 trillion (rounding up a bit) is equivalent to more than half the 2014 level of fiscal budget outlays ($3.5 trillion), and nearly four times the $482 billion deficit.  Regulatory costs rival the level of pre-tax corporate profits, which were $2.235 trillion in 2013.  US households “pay” $14,976 annually in hidden regulatory tax ($1.882 trillion in regulation 125.67 million “consumer units”), “equivalent” to 23% of average income before taxes.  If US regulatory costs of $1.88 trillion were a “country”, it would be the world’s tenth largest economy, between India and the Russian Federation.  Hey, V V – thanks!  Happy Monday, Dude *:)) laughing!

*  EPA has a public hearing scheduled to take comments on the “Repeal of Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units,” a.k.a., ending the Clean Power Plan.  Okay, public hearings aren’t anything new, but this meeting won’t be held in boring ol’ Washington DC or Arlington or Alexandria with the usual bunch of over-paid suits milling around checking their phones.  No sir, this meeting will be held in wild wonderful West Virginia, right in the heart of coal country.  Wow, passion and policy wonks in the same room at the same time.  Should be fun.

Tom Ewing
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