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“If policymakers want to grab these numbers to justify what they want they can get whatever number they want. It’s ill-advised for this concept to be used for making policy,” he said.

Democrats argue that the growing resistance to cost-of-carbon estimates are yet another example of science denial.

“Global warming is real. We’re paying an enormous price for it and now we have an amendment that says, ‘Forget it let’s deny it even further,’” Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, said Wednesday, just before the Culberson amendment was approved by a 27-20 vote.

Like Mr. Moran, environmental and climate specialists say that estimating the cost and effect that carbon has on society is a worthwhile goal that must be central to any serious effort addressing climate change.

“Given that we know climate damages are an important part of what’s happening to the environment, what the fossil fuel economy is doing to the environment, [writing regulations] without a number attached leaves a gaping hole in cost-benefit analyses” performed by the EPA and other agencies when writing rules, said Frank Ackerman, a senior economist at the Center for Progressive Reform and a professor at Tufts University.

Although Mr. Ackerman supports the notion of a social cost of carbon analysis, he agrees with Republican criticisms that the process must be open to public comment and debate.

“There should be more light shone on the process. In general, that’s the right way to run the government and make decisions that have a significant impact on regulations,” he said.