States Win Bid to Freeze Biden Administration’s Interim Social Cost of Carbon Regulation

A federal judge in Louisiana on Friday shot down President Biden’s interim estimates on the social costs of greenhouse gas emissions, dealing another judicial blow to the administration’s climate agenda.

A 2021 executive order directed agencies to use an interim metric that estimated costs to society that would come from burning carbon in environmental permitting and regulatory decisions. But Louisiana, Alabama, and eight other states “sufficiently identified the kinds of harms” needed to block the metric’s use, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana ruled.

“The Court agrees that the public interest and balance of equities weigh heavily in favor” of ordering the administration to disregard the calculations Judge James D. Cain Jr. wrote in the opinion.

States challenged the temporary cost, claiming Biden didn’t have the authority to issue such a significant decision without notice-and-comment rulemaking. They also claimed that its use in decisions would hamper their economies through higher costs and more stringent standards.

The Justice Department unsuccessfully tried to argue that the states’ claims were premature until the metric was actually used in a decision. The DOJ said it’s “reviewing the decision” and declined to comment further.

The court did make it clear that it was ruling on whether Biden had flown against administrative procedures with his interim metric and not on “the scientific issues regarding greenhouse gas emissions, their effects on the environment, or whether they contribute to global warming.”