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Tue May 19, 2020, 07:57 AM

FOIA - Shitstain's Economists At OMB (!) Warned EPA Its MPG Rollback Would Never Stand Up In Court

To which I can only say . . .

White House economists gave a blunt warning to EPA: Its rollback of clean car standards was on shaky legal ground. "The legal justification is lacking," economists with the White House Office of Management and Budget wrote in a March 19 note to the agency. "It ... reads very cursory," they added.

The warning was significant. It pointed to a potential shortcoming of the car rules rollback, one of President Trump's most consequential efforts to dismantle an existing climate change regulation. It went unheeded. Twelve days later, EPA and the Department of Transportation finalized the car rules rollback without significantly updating the legal justification (Greenwire, March 31).

The warning was contained in thousands of pages of documents reviewed by E&E News. The documents were part of OMB's standard interagency review of the rollback, which is formally known as the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule, and were uploaded to the rulemaking docket earlier this month. In addition to the legal justification, OMB raised concerns about the rule's tone and cost-benefit analysis, the documents show. But EPA and DOT largely declined to address those concerns before finalizing the rule.

The agencies' inaction could undermine the rollback's chances of surviving in court, according to experts familiar with the documents. "OMB was telling the agencies they didn't have a legal justification. If the economists at OMB could see that, can you imagine how the court is going to look at this?" said Margo Oge, the former longtime head of EPA's transportation office. Bethany Davis Noll, litigation director at the New York University School of Law's Institute for Policy Integrity, agreed with that assessment. "OMB gave really useful comments if you're an agency that wants to write a rule that will hold up in court," Noll said. "But there are a number of comments that the agencies didn't end up responding to very well."



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