Judge scraps red state lawsuit over Biden carbon metric

By Pamela King | 08/31/2021 01:28 PM EST

A federal judge tossed a lawsuit brought by red states looking to undo an executive order boosting the administration's estimate of the social cost of carbon, a figure used to justify the cost of some regulations. Bill Oxford/Unsplash

A federal court today ditched a lawsuit by a coalition of Republican-led states challenging the Biden administration’s social cost of carbon.

The ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri follows a hearing last week in which Judge Audrey Fleissig appeared skeptical of red states’ claims that President Biden lacked the authority to raise the dollar value assigned to the damage caused by 1 metric ton of greenhouse gas emissions (Energywire, Aug. 26).

“Upon review of the entire record and for the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs lack standing and that their claims are not ripe for adjudication,” wrote Fleissig, an Obama appointee.

In a Jan. 20 order titled “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis,” Biden instructed an interagency working group to come up with an interim social cost of carbon within 30 days and a final metric by January 2022.

The working group said it would support an interim figure of $51 per ton, up from a Trump-era number of $1 per ton.

The social cost of carbon is used in cost-benefit analyses for regulations, such as EPA’s carbon rule for coal-fired power plants.

Fleissig said the states may be able to challenge future regulations that are based on the Biden administration’s new social cost of carbon.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) led the multistate challenge in the Missouri district court. A similar lawsuit is pending in federal district court in Louisiana.

Chris Nuelle, a spokesman for Schmitt’s office, said the attorney general plans to appeal today’s ruling.

“Attorney General Schmitt will continue to fight against unelected bureaucrats’ attempts to impose massive federal regulations — in this case or any other instance — that could crush farmers and manufacturers in Missouri,” Nuelle said.