From a business-owner standpoint, this sounds kinda nice. And hey, if the EPA is relying on self-reporting, it’s pretty open to fraud anyway! So does this just mean those who break the rules can spend less time on lying? (Hey, if it weren’t for Cynicism, I’d have no formal philospohy at all.)
I’m guessing EPA is doing this because of budget cuts as well. It will reduce their workload. They probably don’t really care about those companies reporting less than 5000 pounds anyway, so I’d say it’s probably not such a bad idea. And all companies who report to the EPA are usually audited on a regular basis. EPA auditors are trained to sniff out fraud, believe me. That’s their job.
Also, it would be a motivator for companies who have no hope of getting below 500 pounds to limit their output to 5000 pounds. Not a bad idea, since the major point sources of pollution would never reach the original limit of 500 and therefore not be motivated to keep output below 5000 pounds. Now they have greater incentive to limit their output of pollutants. Makes some sense to me.
It’s true that the EPA rules on paperwork can be rather… extreme. They require an immense amount of some businesses. It’s not actually clear what good most of it did. I think Ghanima’s analysis makes sense.