Refiners back bill to stop social cost of carbon calculation

Source: Amanda Reilly, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A refining trade group yesterday put its weight behind legislation introduced last week that would block agencies from taking into account carbon dioxide emissions’ long-term economic damage.

In a letter today, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers said it supported the bill by Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) to help ensure “transparency” and “sound science” in executive branch decisions.

Introduced Thursday, H.R. 5668 would prohibit both the Department of Energy and U.S. EPA from using the government’s social cost of carbon calculation in rulemakings unless specifically authorized by statute. The legislation would also prohibit the agencies from using a similar type of calculation for methane.

The social cost of carbon represents the long-term economic damage to society, in U.S. dollars, from each incremental ton of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. A working group made up of federal agencies last revised the social cost of carbon estimate in 2015 to $36 per metric ton of CO2. That cost will rise to $50 a metric ton in 2030 and $69 a metric ton in 2050.

Federal agencies have used the social cost of carbon in analyses of dozens of rulemakings. EPA’s recent analysis of its regulations to stem methane emissions from new oil and gas operations relied on the social cost of methane.

In his letter to Jenkins, AFPM President Chet Thompson slammed the Obama administration for using what he called a “flawed approach” in its carbon dioxide cost calculations.

He accused the Obama administration of using the calculations to make it easier to justify costs and “inflate” the benefits of regulations.

“The SCC has become a misleading, political tool,” Thompson wrote, “that suffers from a lack of appropriate peer review and fails to adhere to established federal rulemaking guidance in determining its value.”

The House this week is scheduled to take up a GOP fiscal 2017 spending plan for the Interior Department and EPA that also includes a policy rider that would bar EPA from using the social cost of carbon.