Policies on air pollution, climate change, and water have far-reaching effects on millions of Americans and businesses. Is the Environmental Protection Agency ─ the federal agency whose mission is to protect public health and the environment ─ using the best available economic science when designing and proposing such policy? The newly created External Environmental Economics Advisory Committee (E-EEAC) will convene nationally-recognized environmental economists to ensure that it does.
“Our mission is to provide independent advice on the state-of-the-science with regard to the benefits, costs, and design of the EPA’s environmental programs,” said Antonio Bento a Professor of Public Policy and Economics, and the Director of the USC Center for Sustainability Solutions. Bento is one of the inaugural members of the Executive committee of the new research organization.
The E-EEAC formed following the dissolution in 2018 of the original Environmental Economics Advisory Committee, which had operated for over 25 years within the EPA’s science advisory board structure. Like its predecessor, the E-EEAC consists of economists who apply their expertise to analyze the benefits, costs, and design of environmental policies.
The members of this organization believe that, despite the retirement of the internal EPA committee, advances in economic research remain crucial to achieving welfare-enhancing environmental policies. And the E-EEAC is especially needed now given the large number of regulatory modifications that EPA has, and will shortly, propose. These relate to signature elements of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Energy Independence and Security Act. The proposed rollback of fuel economy standards, and the agencies’ regulatory analysis which Bento demonstrated to be substantially flawed in a recent study published in Science Magazine , is just one of many proposed regulatory rollbacks that will impact the quality of life of millions of Americans.
The E-EEAC’s intent is to operate until the EPA reconstitutes an internal environmental economics advisory committee composed of independent economists. Historically, the EPA has relied on economic expertise when complying with statutes and executive orders that explicitly require EPA to assess the costs, benefits, or distributional impacts of regulations. Economic analysis also enhances the quality of public debate about new regulations.
The E-EEAC is structured to facilitate the provision of independent advice from experts in the field of environmental economics. Functioning as a non-partisan research organization, the E-EEAC strives to make all of its deliberations and findings easily accessible to the EPA and the public.
In addition to Bento, members of the executive committee of the E-EEAC include leading environmental economists from Yale, Duke, Berkeley, UCLA, and Resources for the Future.
Director, USC Center for Sustainability Solutions