Energy & Environment

House chairman: Social cost of carbon measure ‘rejects reality’


House Republicans pushed their attack on the Obama administration’s social cost of carbon during a hearing on Wednesday, saying that it “rejects reality” and questioning the underlying science.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said the measurement — used to calculate the economic benefits of regulations targeting greenhouse emissions — was based on formulas that are “highly speculative.”

“This administration rejects reality to enforce some kind of dogma,” Bishop said.

{mosads}Republicans have fought against the metric and its use by federal agencies to develop new energy regulations.

“I get the impression that politics is leading science, rather than science is leading policy,” Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) added.

Scott Segal, founding partner of the Policy Resolution Group, told the Committee that the metric could be easily altered to justify any costly regulations.

“Give me a low enough discount rate, and a long enough time period, and we can justify government spending on anything you can imagine,” Segal said. “This tool can be used to be an incredible waster of money.”

But Michael Dorsey, interim director of the Energy and Environment Program at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, said the formula is too conservative in estimating the costs of emissions.

“A higher [discount] rate would accelerate efforts to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere,” Dorsey said.

The discount rate is one part of calculating the social cost of carbon.

Democrats, though, defended the measurement and said it was crucial to helping address climate change.

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) asked the panel of experts whether the government should incorporate any kind of cost benefit analysis into carbon regulations and three of the four witnesses answered “yes.

“All of us understand that the longer we wait to address climate change, the more it will cost to combat climate change,” Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) said.

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