tions has been subject to judicial challenge and may be upheld or rejected depending on the wording of the specific statute.
Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress has wide authority, upheld by the courts, to enact legislation to protect the public’s health and safety. The U.S. Supreme Court has generally permitted Congress to delegate this discretion to the federal regulatory agencies. When Congress authorizes individual agencies to examine particular risk exposures, such as those associated with air or water pollution, it may establish an approach based on health alone (prohibiting consideration of cost); on the best available technology (including the consideration of cost); on feasibility (which depends on cost but not on BCA); on the least burdensome alternative to achieve a given goal (implying CEA); or on reasonableness (implying BCA). At times the legislation will be silent as to the type of standard or will take a mixed approach. Many of these authorizing statutes have both health- and nonhealth-related goals; for example, they may require that agencies address impacts on the natural environment as well as on human health. In addition, some statutes establish other factors that must be considered, such as the impact on sensitive populations.
The following discussion sketches the statutory and regulatory context for the economic analyses of regulations that are the subject of this report and of the Committee’s recommendations. We consider legislative standards and procedural requirements for agency deliberations and policy determinations, supplementing the discussion of the regulatory development process in Chapter 1.
Health-based statutes establish a general goal of reducing the risks of death, illness, and injury. In Section 3(8) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, for example, Congress gave the Secretary of Labor broad regulatory authority to adopt standards “reasonably necessary or appropriate to provide safe or healthful employment.” Section 6(b)(5), for toxics, requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to “set the standard which most adequately assures, to the extent feasible, on the basis of the best available evidence, that no employee will suffer material impairment of health or functional capacity….” Immediately following OSHA’s benzene and cotton dust regulations, industry groups argued that the statutory language required OSHA to use BCA in promul-