Legal Fight Over Climate Costs

The Biden administration is indefinitely freezing decisions about new federal oil and gas drilling as part of a legal brawl with Republican-led states that could significantly impact President Biden’s plans to tackle climate change.

The move, which came Saturday, was a response to a recent federal ruling that blocked the way the Biden administration was calculating the real cost of climate change, a figure that guides a range of government decisions, from pollution regulation to whether to permit new oil, gas or coal extraction on public lands and in federal waters.

Under President Obama, the government estimated that the damage from wildfires, floods and rising sea levels was $51 for every ton of carbon dioxide generated by burning fossil fuels. President Trump lowered that number considerably, setting it at $7 or less per ton. Upon taking office, President Biden revived the $51 level and set about updating it further — work that is underway.

The Louisiana attorney general has called the social cost of carbon “voodoo economics,” argued that President Biden exceeded his authority by applying the social cost of carbon to decision-making. He was joined by the attorneys general of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Judge Cain sided with the Republican attorneys general, arguing that using a social cost of carbon is unconstitutional because Congress never passed legislation authorizing it.

Yet Congress has passed virtually no legislation addressing how an administration should conduct economic analyses, something it has done for decades. In a statement mocked by some legal experts, the judge cited a “separation of powers clause” in the Constitution. There is no such clause.…


The O&G industry has bought 10 states.