Tag Archives: “Social Cost of Carbon”

Each Federal Agency Should Use Its Judgment in Determining the Social Cost of Carbon — How’s That Going to Work Out?

Late last month, the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases quietly released a three-paragraph memo on how agencies should determine the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions.  I hesitate to call it “guidance.”  Here’s the operative language:

As agencies consider applying the SC-GHG in various contexts, agencies should use their professional judgment to determine which estimates of the SC-GHG reflect the best available evidence,… More

Biden Expands Consideration of Social Cost of Carbon by Federal Agencies

On September 21, 2023, the Biden administration outlined plans to expand federal agencies’ consideration of the social cost of carbon—a metric for the economic cost of each additional ton of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere. This announcement tilts the balance of cost-benefit analyses in favor of activities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and it could have widespread effects for entities that receive federal funding or are subject to federal regulation.… More

The Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases Is Increasing — But Is Uncertainty Over the Measurement of Climate Impacts Artificially Depressing the Number?

Yesterday, Climatewire (subscription required) released a peer review letter on EPA’s Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases (SC-GHG), which got a fair bit of press last year, because EPA’s metric was $190/ton, even though the Biden administration was using the $51/ton figure originally developed by the Obama administration.  The peer reviewers’ views can be distilled down to two major points:social cost of greenhouse gases

  1. It’s a really solid piece of work that provide a solid technical foundation for the SC-GHG.…
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Red States Still Have Nothing to Complain About Regarding the Social Cost of Carbon

Today, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed for lack of standing claims by a number of states challenging the Biden Administration’s Interim Estimates of the Social Cost of Carbon.  The Court had telegraphed this outcome last spring when it vacated a District Court injunction against use of the Interim Estimates, noting that:

The Government Defendants are likely to succeed on the merits because the Plaintiff States lack standing.… More

The Social Cost of Greenhouse Gas Emissions is About to Get Much More Expensive

Following an announcement at COP27 by President Biden, the EPA issued a supplemental proposal to reduce methane and other harmful emissions from new and existing sources in the oil and gas industry. In its regulatory impact analysis for the supplemental proposal, EPA included a sensitivity analysis detailing a revised methodology and new estimates for social cost of greenhouse gases (SC-GHGs), including carbon, methane,… More

The Social Cost of Carbon Lives! The Red States Have Nothing To Complain About

The Fifth Circuit has stayed an order blocking Biden administration use of the “Interim Estimates” of the social cost of greenhouse gases.  The Court did not leave much doubt that the administration will prevail on the merits. 

Issuance of a stay is based on criteria very similar to those regarding entry of an injunction.  The two most important are the likelihood of success on the merits and whether the person requesting the stay will suffer irreparable harm if a stay is not granted. … More

FERC Cannot Avoid the Social Cost of Carbon By Arguing That It is Not Universally Accepted

On August 3, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals held that FERC could not avoid use of the social cost of carbon in assessing the impacts of natural gas projects by arguing that “there is no universally accepted methodology.”  Given the growing recognition of the significant role FERC is going to have in combatting climate change, it’s an important decision. 

FERC acknowledged that construction and operation of the projects under review would “contribute incrementally to future climate change impacts.”  However,… More

More on the Social Cost of Carbon — Are We Doing It All Wrong?

Last month, I posted about the Biden administration’s effort to develop a new estimate of the social cost of carbon.  The EO requires a new interim SCC within 30 days and a new longer-term SCC by January 2022.  Earlier this week, Joseph Stiglitz and Nicholas Stern – it doesn’t get more impressive than a Nobel prize winner and an actual Lord – released a National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper (non-academics can download up to three papers free per year) in which they argue that,… More

It’s the Externalities, Stupid — Climate Edition

Among the important provisions of President Biden’s Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis is the requirement to review and revise estimates of the social cost of carbon (and nitrous oxide and methane).  The order establishes a working group, co-chaired by the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, the Director of OMB, and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. … More

The Office of Surface Mining Loses Another NEPA Case — Do I Detect a Trend?

Last week, a federal judge once more rejected the Environmental Assessment for the expansion of the Spring Creek Mine in Montana.  The case does not really break any new ground, but it does add to the growing number of cases in which courts have rejected federal action approving a variety of large facilities related to energy production in one way or another.  The crux of this case was the failure of the EA to consider downstream,… More

Does NEPA Require Assessment of Downstream GHG Emissions Resulting From Gas Pipelines?

Last week, a divided panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that FERC violated NEPA in failing to assess downstream greenhouse gas emissions resulting from construction of the Sabal Trail pipeline, part of the Southeast Market Pipelines Project.  If the decision stands, it is going to have a very significant impact on review and development of gas pipelines.

(Full disclosure – Foley Hoag represents NextEra,… More

The Social Cost of Carbon: Not Too Speculative for NEPA

Earlier this week, the Judge Donald Malloy of the District Court for the District of Montana granted summary judgment to the Montana Environmental Information Center on several of its claims alleging that the Office of Surface Mining had violated NEPA in approving a modification of a mining plan to expand the Bull Mountains Mine No. 1.  The decision is important for two reasons.

First,… More

Trump’s Impact on Environmental Law? Let the Speculation Begin!

What will a Trump Presidency mean for environmental law?  trump-climateI’m not sure my crystal ball is better than anyone else’s, but here are a few quick thoughts:

  • It’s still going to be difficult to amend the key statutes, unless the GOP goes nuclear with the filibuster rules.  I don’t see Clean Air Act amendments happening.  Significant amendments might be possible to the Endangered Species Act and Superfund.…
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ExxonMobil Admits Climate Change Is Real. It also Imposes an Internal Cost on Carbon. Still Not Enough to Get Any Love From the Greens (Interesting Reading, Though)

Last week, in response to shareholder requests that it disclose information regarding how climate change might affect it in the future, ExxonMobil released two reports, one titled Energy and Climate, and one titled Energy and Carbon – Managing the Risks.  They actually make fascinating reading and seem to represent a new tack by ExxonMobil in its battle with those seeking aggressive action on climate change.… More