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Highlights

Oil in aboveground tanks can leak into soil and nearby water, threatening human health and wildlife. To prevent certain oil spills, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule in 1973. EPA estimated that, in 2005, about 571,000 facilities were regulated under this rule. When finalizing amendments to the rule in 2002 and 2006 to both strengthen the rule and reduce industry burden, EPA analyzed the amendments' potential impacts and concluded that the amendments were economically justified. As requested, GAO assessed the reasonableness of EPA's economic analyses of the 2002 and 2006 SPCC amendments, using Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidelines for federal agencies in determining regulatory impacts, among other criteria, and discussed EPA's analyses with EPA officials.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Environmental Protection Agency To improve the usefulness of the agency's economic analysis for informing decision makers and the public, the Administrator, EPA, should take action to ensure that the agency's economic analysis of future changes to the SPCC rule includes all of the key elements for such analyses contained in OMB's guidelines for complying with Executive Order 12866.
Closed - Implemented
According to EPA, the agency continues to work to ensure that the economic analyses of future changes to the SPCC rule follow OMB's guidelines for complying with Executive Order 12866. For example, in recent amendments to the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations since publication of the GAO report, EPA expanded working relationships with USDA, DOE, DOC and other Federal and state partners. Following OMB guidance, the agency collected and compiled data on the regulated universe and addressed oil spill risks, quantified benefits and analyzed uncertainty.

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