Every Republican who’s come within shouting distance of a microphone in the past year has charged the EPA with out-of-control, unconstitutional job-killing malefaction — “regulatory overreach” for short. More than a few conservative Dems, led by the crudely pandering Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have followed suit.

This is their way of advocating for the interests of a certain set of companies, companies with business models premised on offloading social and health costs to the public. Those companies understandably don’t want to be held accountable for their externalized costs, so they portray the economic consequences of doing so as an unthinkable burden.

For example, here’s an image that’s been made famous on the Hill by the Edison Electric Institute, an industry trade group:

Environmental regulatory timeline for coal units

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As they say in the Oxford English Dictionary, OMG! It’s a mad carnival funhouse of regulatory perplexment and befuddletation! Surely no industry of mere profit-seeking mortals could be expected to navigate it.

Or not. John Larsen at the World Resources Institute picked through the image and took out a few things that might be misleading, like, say, rules already remanded or vacated by court decisions:

Environmental regulatory timeline with all but new requirements removedImage: Word Resources Institute

With these deceptive items removed , here’s what the burden on the industry looks like:

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Regulatory compliance oblications for utility industryImage: World Resources Institute

So … peaceful. More like a regulatory zen rock garden than a thicket, really.

Investments by the industry to comply with these regulations could create 1.5 million jobs over the next five years. The public will also enjoy fewer premature deaths, pulmonary and respiratory illnesses, cognitively impaired children, catastrophic spills, employee sick days, and lost jobs.

The benefits dwarf the costs to industry. Every time.

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