Federal Appeals Court Revives Key Climate Measure

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday stayed a district judge’s injunction against President Joe Biden’s social cost of carbon, reinstating the metric used to measure the climate impacts of rulemakings and projects.

The social cost of carbon, which is used by the federal government when issuing regulations, approving infrastructure projects or taking other actions, is an estimate of the present and future damages resulting from emitting one ton of the greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Climate activists hope a higher estimate will significantly increase the value assigned to pollution reductions, which in turn will help justify stronger climate regulations.

The stay allows EPA, the Departments of the Interior, Energy and Transportation and other federal agencies to resume using the interim SCC figures in rulemakings and other decisions. At least one major rule, regarding emissions from heavy-duty trucks was published without quantifying its climate benefits because of the injunction.

The stay is pending a fuller appeal of the injunction, but the order issued on Wednesday indicates the appellate court is not amenable to Louisiana’s arguments.