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US judge strikes down Biden climate damage cost estimate

Friday's block by a federal judge repelled the Biden administration’s attempts to place greater emphasis on greenhouse gas emissions in its rules for polluting industries.

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US judge strikes down Biden climate damage cost estimate

U.S. District Judge James Cain of Louisiana's Western District sided with Republican attorneys from energy producing states, who claimed that the administration's decision to increase the cost estimate of carbon emissions would drive up energy prices and decrease state revenues from energy production.

A judge issued an injunction prohibiting the Biden administration to use the higher cost estimate. This puts a dollar value onto damages caused by each additional ton of greenhouse gasses emitted into our atmosphere.

On his first day of office, President Joe Biden restored the climate cost estimate at about $51 per ton carbon dioxide emissions. This was after the Trump administration had reduced it to $7 per ton. The former President Donald Trump's estimate only included damages in the United States, and did not include global damages that were captured in higher estimates previously made under the Obama administration.

This estimate will be used to create future regulations for oil and gas drilling and automobiles. A higher cost estimate could be used to justify reducing planet-warming emissions. This would make the benefits of following new rules more likely to outweigh any costs.

The social cost of carbon is also known as the damage figure. It uses economic models to account for the impacts of rising sea levels and recurring droughts, among other effects of climate change. This $51 estimate was established for the first time in 2016. It was used to justify major rules, such as the Clean Power Plan, former President Barack Obama’s signature effort to combat climate change. The Clean Power Plan tightened emissions standards from coal-fired power stations and separate rules that impose stricter vehicle emission standards.

The Clean Power Plan was stopped by the Supreme Court before it could be implemented. A more restrictive rule that had been imposed by Trump's administration was later overturned by a federal appeals court.

Although the carbon cost estimate was not used much under Biden yet, it is being considered in a inapending environmental review oil and gas lease sales to western states.

Cain stated in Friday's ruling that the use of the climate damage figure for oil and gas lease reviews would "artificially raise the cost estimates for lease sales" and cause direct damage to energy producing countries.

Michael Greenstone, an economist who worked in the Obama administration to establish the social cost carbon, stated that if the ruling is upheld, it would indicate that the U.S. will not confront climate change.

Professor at the University of Chicago said that "the social cost of carbon guides stringency in climate policy." "Setting it at near-zero Trump administration levels effectively eliminates all the teeth of climate regulations."

Jeff Landry, the Louisiana Republican attorney general, said that the Biden administration's re-evaluation of the higher estimate was illegal. He also claimed that the figure was based on global factors and that it exceeded its authority. Other states that were sued by officials included Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Mississippi as well as Texas, West Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota and Texas.

Landry's office released a statement describing Cain's ruling as "a major victory for almost every aspect of Louisiana’s economy and culture."

According to the statement, Biden's executive orders were an attempt by government to tax people and take control of them.

The White House asked questions of the Justice Department. They declined to comment.

After environmentalists sued the government, federal officials started estimating climate damage costs more than a decade back.

He said that not accounting for carbon damages would cause a cost-benefit analysis of any proposed rule in favor industry. He also stated that the social cost to carbon has been an "instrumental" factor in allowing agencies and other entities to accurately assess how their rules impact the climate.

Sarinsky stated that "without a proper valuation climate impact, it will complicate agencies good faith efforts to draw reasoned conclusions."

In a similar case from another group Republican states, a Missouri federal judge had sided last year with the administration. The judge ruled that the Republicans did not have the standing to file a lawsuit in this case because they had not suffered any harm from Biden's order.

Cain's Friday ruling, which is a Trump appointee follows a decision by another Louisiana judge last year that ruled against a separate Biden attempt at reducing greenhouse gas emissions through suspending new oil-and gas leases on federal land and water. U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty is the judge in this case. He is also a Trump appointee.

A federal judge in Washington rescinded a lease sale in Gulf of Mexico as a sign of shifting politics on this issue. This decision was largely due to Doughty’s ruling.

Rudolph Contreras (a U.S. District Judge) rescinded the lease sale because the administration failed to adequately consider its impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

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