Press Examine Historical Evidence on the Costs of Regulation

Ben Somberg

March 4, 2011

Industry representatives have long made exorbitant claims about the costs of regulations, only to be proven wrong again and again. And despite that history, anti-regulatory campaigners repeat the scariest statistics their own experts come up with, even if those statistics were meant to include a range of possible outcomes, or included caveats of uncertainty.

An important batch of articles this week dug into these issues. Here are some of the highlights:

Associated Press:

Yet in testimony before House committees now run by anti-regulation Republicans, industry witnesses repeat numbers from imprecise economic models. Members of Congress often cite the same figures without the researchers' caveats.


... industry lobbyists warned in 1990 that the latest round of Clean Air Act amendments would mean a “quiet death for businesses across the country.” Businesses claimed the acid rain emissions trading program would cost ratepayers $5.5 billion annually between 1990 and 2000 and increase to $7.1 billion per year after that. But as it turned out, the costs were between $1.1 billion and $1.8 billion per year, according to a 2005 White House report to Congress.

Christian Science Monitor:

Critics of the new EPA regulations are claiming that the measures will undermine the weak-as-a-kitten economic recovery, perhaps leading to a million or more lost jobs in coming years. But a cadre of economists trying to puncture that widely held view – which they call a persistent "myth" – are turning to history in an attempt to show that the impact of environmental regulations is far more positive than negative.


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