House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan requesting transparency and information on the EPA’s use of “Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases” (SC-GHG).

A U.S. District Court recently issued a preliminary injunction that blocked federal agencies from using so-called Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases (SC-GHG) estimates in regulatory reviews and other activity. The ruling raised important issues that are pertinent for Congressional oversight, including questions about transparency and the application of these controversial estimates to justify stricter regulations on American energy and its economy. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board noted over the weekend the following on the social cost of greenhouse gases — “[t]he [Biden] Administration’s estimate captured all of the potential harm from carbon emissions globally over three centuries – yes, centuries. They threw in everything from property damage to health harms and war.”

LETTER EXCERPT: “Questions about the process and transparency of developing SC-GHG estimates first emerged during the Obama Administration. President Obama created an obscure and opaque ad hoc ‘Interagency Working Group’ (IWG) to establish such estimates for use in regulatory impact analyses. The SC-GHG estimates, which presented a dollar value for estimated global damage of each ton of greenhouse gas emissions, measured over the extraordinary time-period of 300 years into the future, remained controversial throughout the Obama Administration. Aside from fundamental technical limits to the reliability of future global climate impacts and economic growth estimates identified by experts, the controversy involved serious questions about applying highly uncertain and speculative estimates to inform near-term domestic regulatory judgements. Contrary to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and EPA peer review guidance, the estimates were also not subject to peer review. The potential for abusing this information to skew important regulatory decisions or to mislead the public about the real costs of regulatory actions remains our central concern.

On his first day in office, President Biden directed his administration to update the social cost of carbon and use these controversial estimates in forthcoming rulemakings, raising concerns the estimates could be used to mislead the public about important regulatory decisions. These include energy security and other policies that could make the United States more dependent on our adversaries.

LETTER EXCERPT: “The Trump Administration limited the use of the SC-GHG to domestic impacts and to economic evaluation consistent with long established regulatory guidance. However, the Biden Administration resurrected the controversy on President Biden’s first day in office, when he issued Executive Order 13990 that, among actions such as the canceling the Keystone pipeline permit, resurrected the SC-GHG IWG to change the estimates. That order also provided for the reestablishment, without any public notice and comment, of a requirement that agencies use the Obama Administration estimates in environmental and regulatory assessments.”

Ranking Member Rodgers and Ranking Member Capito request Administrator Regan respond to a series of requests to help Congress understand the nature and scope of EPA’s use of SC-GHGs and its compliance with the Court order by March 22, 2022.

CLICK HERE to read the letter to Administrator Regan.

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