Home Energy conservation Biden administration can use higher estimate of climate costs to craft policies and appeals court rules

Biden administration can use higher estimate of climate costs to craft policies and appeals court rules


The Biden administration can move forward with policies that incorporate an increased estimate of the cost of climate change, a panel of judges ruled late Wednesday, overturning a ruling by a federal judge last month.

The decision marks the latest development in the Biden administration’s bid to enact a more than sevenfold increase in a metric called the social cost of carbon, which assigns a monetary value to the damage caused by greenhouse gas emissions. tight.

In an eight-page decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said federal agencies would be harmed if they were prevented from using the provisional estimates within the rules that the Environmental Protection Agency environment, the Department of Transportation, and other federal agencies are working on climate-related issues. These preliminary estimates were released in February 2021.

The decision overturns a Feb. 11 decision by U.S. District Judge James D. Cain in Lake Charles, Louisiana, who sided with 10 states with Republican attorneys general who sued the Biden administration over the estimates. provisional.

The states, in their lawsuit, said the Biden administration’s measure “will result in a massive expansion of the federal government’s regulatory power and justify unprecedented increases in regulatory restrictions on agriculture, energy and virtually every other human activities”.

Judge Cain granted the states a preliminary injunction blocking the use of the proposed increase, while the trial unfolds.

The measurement is used to guide various government decisions, including the sale of energy leases on federal lands. The Biden administration decided last year to temporarily increase the value to $51 per metric ton, from $7 per metric ton under the Trump administration. The administration was expected to finalize the value later this year.

In previous court documents, federal government attorneys have warned of regulatory paralysis at multiple federal agencies due to Judge Cain’s order and said the move could halt work at multiple agencies.

The administration has used the metric in more than 100 new rules and rulings, including programs such as energy-saving standards for homes drafted by the Department of Energy and a multi-billion dollar grant program. dollars for railroads and public transportation operated by the Department of Transportation. The Home Office said Judge Cain’s decision could delay rental sales.

The appeals court judges said the federal government would likely win the case once it plays out fully in court and stopping the use of the metric causes irreparable harm.

The appeals court ruling also said the 10 states that sued do not have the status to do so because the harm they face — “increased regulatory burdens” — is hypothetical.

“The preliminary estimates alone do nothing for the” states that sued, the ruling said.

Cory Dennis, a spokesman for Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, said the office disagreed with the appeals court’s finding that the states lacked the status to challenge the ” President Biden’s latest attempt to inject the federal government into the daily lives of Americans.” He said the state will ask a broader panel of judges to reconsider.

Environmental groups that support raising the value of the social cost of carbon emissions said the latest court ruling is practical.

“This common-sense decision simply allows the government to continue its usual reflection on the costs of climate damage, but we need much more than that from the Biden administration,” said attorney Kassie Siegel, director of the Climate Law from the Center for Biological Diversity. Institute, said in a statement. “When it comes to climate, Biden can’t carry on business as usual.”

The social cost of carbon measurements helps federal regulators quantify the value that climate change has on activities such as agricultural productivity, human health, and property damage caused by increased risk of flooding or other natural disasters .

Specifically, the metric is a set of numbers that monetizes the social costs of three planet-warming greenhouse gases: methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas that is emitted by the combustion of oil and gas.

Write to Katy Stech Ferek at [email protected]

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