Findings Further Discredit OMB Scheme Undermining Fairness, Protection for Most Vulnerable Groups

WASHINGTON (January 11, 2006) -- An important new study issued today exposes major flaws in controversial methods for analyzing health and safety protections promoted by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The report released today by the National Academies' Institute of Medicine, "Valuing Health in Regulatory Cost-Effectiveness Analysis," is the latest in a series of controversial proposals and analyses commissioned by John Graham, departing director of the White House Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. All are intended to sharply downplay health and other non-monetary benefits of cleaner air and water.

Graham requested the Institute of Medicine study in 2003 after Congress rejected his proposed new calculus, which would put vulnerable populations, such as senior citizens and the disabled, at particular disadvantage.

"Mr. Graham's methodology violates every notion of fairness and equal treatment under the law by discounting the value of some lives more than others," said Wesley Warren, program director at NRDC and former OMB staff member. "Protecting the public's health should be about saving lives, not just counting dollars. Yet time and again under this administration, OMB has every possible opportunity to cook the books to make sure that special interests are free to pollute more."

For more on John Graham, click here.

The national academy report concludes that OMB's proposed methods are flawed, in part because they fail to consider non-monetary benefits to health and safety protections. Non-monetary benefits are often excluded from regulatory analyses not because they don't exist but because they cannot be quantified in concrete dollar terms. The result is that costs are overstated, and benefits understated.