Obama Administration Seeks Public Input On The Social Cost Of Carbon

The Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) is currently $33 per ton, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  This value was recently adjusted and is up 57% since 2010, when the SCC was first announced.

Various industry groups have objected to the SCC estimate, which was first used in a Department of Energy rulemaking on microwave ovens earlier this year and which is the value U.S. EPA used to justify the cost-benefits of the newly proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations for new power plants. 

In September, seven trade associations — America’s Natural Gas Alliance, American Chemistry Council, American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of Manufacturers, Portland Cement Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – petitioned the OMB to withdraw the SCC, arguing that it was developed in secret and failed to adhere to the Obama administration’s pledge of openness.  They urged OMB to reissue the SCC through a transparent, public review and comment process.

Last week, the OMB announced minor revisions in its estimate of the SCC for 2015, adjusting the value to $37 per metric ton, down from a $38 per ton projection released in May of this year.  In making this announcement, OMB indicated that it would be accepting comment on the new estimate, although no Federal Register notice has been published.

The SCC is an attempt to quantify the economic damages attributable to changes in agricultural productivity, human health, rising sea levels and flood risks and other presumed effects of climate change.  It was developed by an interagency working group included representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, Transportation Department, Office of Management and Budget, Council of Economic Advisers, Council on Environmental Quality, and other federal agencies.

The OMB’s announcement is available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/11/01/refining-estimates-social-cost-carbon

Kathy Milenkovski is an energy and environmental lawyer. She helps clients comply with complex state and federal regulatory programs and represents clients in litigation, appearing in administrative, state and federal courts.
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