Proposed changes would downplay human health and climate benefits of environmental regulations in favor of cutting costs for polluting industries.
The Environmental Protection Agency took its first step on Thursday toward a comprehensive overhaul of the cost-benefit calculations that underpin the entire array of its regulations, notably any actions to rein in global warming.
In a notice inviting the public to comment on whether and how to adjust its methods, the agency signaled a potential wave of revisions to how it seeks balance in its rules under laws governing air, water, solid waste, pesticides and climate change.
One option it flagged, which could have far-reaching effects on rules involving fossil fuels, the main source of greenhouse gases, would do away with expansive calculations of benefits when rules meant to control one form of pollution also serendipitously cut back on another.
Because burning fossil fuels gives off many kinds of harmful pollution, regulators have commonly cited the full range of ancillary benefits that arise whenever new rules suppress the use of coal, oil and natural gas. At the request of industry, the EPA’s notice said, the agency will consider changing this approach.