Four NERA Economists Join Fellow Economists in US Supreme Court Amicus Brief on Clean Water Act Case Involving Electricity Facilities
New York/22 July 2008 -- NERA Economic Consulting Senior Vice President Dr. David Harrison, Vice President Dr. Albert L. Nichols, and Special Consultants Dr. Alfred E. Kahn and Dr. W. Kip Viscusi have joined 29 other economists in signing an amicus brief filed with the US Supreme Court in Entergy Corp., PSEG Fossil LLC and PSEG Nuclear LLC and Utility Water Act Group v. Riverkeeper Inc, et al. The brief, filed by the AEI Center for Regulatory and Market Studies on 21 July, expresses the view that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should be allowed to compare costs and benefits in evaluating environmental regulations.
The case in question considers whether the EPA is allowed to weigh costs and benefits, among other factors, in deciding what controls must be installed to reduce fish and shellfish losses at the water intake structures at affected power facilities under Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act. The Supreme Court is reviewing a lower court ruling that had the effect of prohibiting the EPA from considering costs in relation to benefits in setting requirements under Section 316(b) -- for example, whether the costs of a slight improvement in fish protection would be disproportionate to the benefits.
The signatories to the amicus brief do not take a position on the legal issues. The economists express the view that the lower court ruling is economically unsound because it prevents regulators from making rational decisions on an issue that can impose potential costs of hundreds of millions of dollars for a single power facility.
To read the brief and view the full list of signatories, please visit ssrn.com/abstract=1165904.