Foes of Obama climate policy prepare battle over cost of carbon
The Republican-led House of Representatives, just before members left Washington, on August 1 passed a measure introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) that would prevent the EPA from using the SCC in rulemaking without congressional approval. Last week a conservative legal group filed a petition to the Energy Department to reconsider its use.
A Panel Of Experts
The SCC is a notional figure used in rule-making that estimates the economic damages associated with a rise in carbon emissions. It accounts for the effect of climate change in such areas as agricultural productivity and property damage from increased flood risk.
That naturally makes it a contentious figure, all the more so due to the lack of transparency around how SCC is calculated.
A panel of experts from nearly a dozen agencies, including the EPA, Energy Department, Department of Treasury and Office of Management and Budget determines the so-called cost of carbon.
The group used three different academic models to develop its estimates that "combine climate processes, economic growth, and interactions between the climate and the global economy into a single modeling framework," Howard Shelanski, head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, or OIRA, testified to Congress last month.
Patrick Traylor, an environmental litigation specialist at Washington law firm Hogan Lovells, says he expects opponents to attack the rules because the SCC "have not been subject to normal peer-reviewed scientific rigor".
Critics were also angered with the way that the SCC figure was released: in a late-May blog post by Obama's energy and climate adviser, Heather Zichal, to announce the roll out-of new Department of Energy efficiency standards for microwave ovens. She said the new standards would result in $4.6 billion in net benefits, based on the revised SCC figure.
Ari Isaacman Astles, a spokesman for the White House Office of Management and Budget, said the reason the figure was released then was because it only "became available during interagency review of the final rule."
Opponents also said they had not been given time to provide input or respond to the new figure before it was implemented.
OIRA's Shelanski defended the transparency of the inter-agency process in his congressional testimony, saying: "Agencies using the SCC values in rulemakings received extensive public comments."
Oil refiner Tesoro Corp. and coal company Peabody are among fossil-fuel based firms that have lobbied lawmakers and administration officials on the issue, according to second-quarter filings to the government.
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