Energy & Environment

Republicans criticize climate change cost accounting

Senate Republicans are criticizing the Obama administration for using what they see as an opaque, secretive process to calculate the costs associated with climate change.

Led by Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), 11 senators wrote to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Monday to investigate the administration’s social cost of carbon.

{mosads}The administration uses social cost of carbon to calculate the societal benefits of regulations that reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are believed to cause climate change.

The Obama administration currently pegs the cost of carbon emissions — and the benefit of reducing them — at $37 per ton.

“Congress and the American people deserve greater transparency and government accountability regarding the social cost of carbon — a theoretical measure of climate change damages the administration uses to justify onerous regulations,” the senators wrote.

While OIRA did not initially accept public comments on the climate accounting procedure, it decided in November 2013 to take input. But it has not made that input public, or has it said how it will take those comments into consideration.

The senators said they have “significant concerns” over the process for developing the cost estimates, and making more information about it public would help to examine it.

They also outlined some objections to the estimates, saying that “evidence indicates severe deficiencies in the models used.”

Federal agencies have relied on the social cost of carbon to justify regulations concerning energy efficiency and carbon emissions limits for power plants.

The Republican senators asked that OIRA release detailed information about how it is taking the public comments into consideration, how it might change its accounting method, whether it will release the comments publicly and other details.

Tags Climate change social cost of carbon
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