EPA must explain the costs of its rules better, federal watchdog says

The Environmental Protection Agency needs to do a better job explaining and disclosing the data it uses to determine the costs of proposed regulations, particularly those regarding climate change, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Monday.

While the agency adhered to many of the guidelines outlined by the White House Office of Management and Budget when describing the economic effects of proposed rules and potential alternatives, the report said the information EPA used was "not always clear."

"As a result, EPA cannot ensure that its [regulatory impact analyses] adhere to OMB’s guidance to provide the public with a clear understanding of its decision making," the report said.

The report could have implications for the EPA proposal to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, which won't be finalized until June 2015. The report suggested that "OMB clarify the application of guidance for estimating the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions," a topic of much debate between supporters and detractors of the proposed rule.

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