In the fine print

Source: BY KELSEY TAMBORRINO, Politico • Posted: Thursday, April 2, 2020

A controversial figure called an “implicit opportunity cost” that was tucked into the White House’s rollback of auto emissions rules was not among the final calculations cited by EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to support the rollback. But it was included in the lengthy rule text as making it more beneficial by $40 billion to $60 billion, something critics say is an attempt to make the deregulatory action more appealing, Pro’s Alex Guillén reports.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, called the new figure a “fudge factor” that the agencies whipped up in “a desperate, last-ditch effort to make the rule seem like it provided benefits to society.”

The final rule released this week defines the implicit opportunity cost as foregone benefits to consumers who would have bought a new car regardless of the fuel economy standards. In a statement to POLITICO, NHTSA said that implicit opportunity costs had been used in previous rulemakings during the Obama administration. Although it was one of dozens of analyses the agency considered in formulating the fuel efficiency rule, it said it had not been part of the “central analysis” and so could not have been used to “cook the books.”