GOP bill challenges the administration's change in 'social cost of carbon'

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) wants the White House to take public comment on its decision to increase the estimated damages from carbon emissions that agencies use in regulations.

Bloomberg reports that Hunter introduced a bill Friday to force the White House Office of Management and Budget to seek comment on the changed cost, and submit information to Congress explaining its methodology behind the increased estimate.

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A recent Energy Department rule that boosted efficiency standards for microwave ovens used a revised “social cost of carbon,” which increased the estimated benefits of the regulation.

“Tucking the latest carbon calculation in a little noticed rule on microwave ovens is suspect to say the least, but how that calculation will be used in a cost-benefit analysis going forward absolutely matters,” Hunter said in a statement to Bloomberg. “This is a process that needs to be more open and transparent, and this bill will do exactly that.”

The increased social cost of carbon in rulemakings could have big implications as the Obama administration seeks to justify new executive actions to confront climate change, including power plant emissions rules.

The social cost of carbon is a way to estimate the monetary damages from the effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels.

It is a “comprehensive estimate of climate change damages and includes changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, and property damages from increased flood risk,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Obama administration has changed the estimated cost, which rises over time, from $$23.80 per metric ton in 2015 to $38.