Environmental advocates are concerned about EPA directives that could change the way the agency approaches co-benefits. In an April article in Science’s online publication Sciencemag.org, advocates say an EPA directive under former head Scott Pruitt could disarm future regulations with a change to how co-benefits are considered. Although environmental advocates say the Pruitt directive’s writing about co-benefits seems innocuous, they are concerned. The article quotes a Rutgers University professor who said advocates worry because Pruitt and the Trump administration are involved with offering a change to the concept.
What are Co-benefits?
In short, co-benefits are the first part of an EPA acronym known as COBRA, which stands for Co-benefits Risk Assessment. It’s basically a tool used by local and state governments to estimate:
- How changes in clean energy programs and policies affect human health.
- Estimates the economic value of health benefits of clean energy policy.
- Maps the benefits of a reduction of certain emissions.
The EPA touts COBRA as a “preliminary” screening tool to identify situations that could benefit from further evaluation of a proposed air quality model. These co-benefits are relevant to air pollution control in that they define other benefits of removing particulates from the sky than just their removal, often done by employing new and used catalytic and thermal oxidizers. Common co-benefits include reduction of the health costs of asthma treatment and the economic benefit of fewer days lost from.
The article says environmental advocates worry that language in the Trump administration’s directive questions the validity of co-benefits. These co-benefits were instrumental in the passage of Obama-era legislation from 2011 known as the Mercury Air Toxic Standards (MATS). It required coal-burning plants to reduce emissions of “hazardous substances,” reports the Sciencemag.org article. Basically, co-benefits were factored into the overall savings that would result from the … Read More ...