A federal judge last week blocked the Biden administration’s effort to adopt a social cost on carbon and other greenhouse gases, handing a win to 10 Republican attorneys general who accused the president of overstepping his authority.
U.S. District Court Judge James D. Cain Jr. granted a preliminary injunction Friday shutting down the implementation of President Biden’s executive order that requires federal agencies to estimate the societal costs of various emissions in the name of fighting climate change.
The Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases agreed in February 2021 to approve an interim value of $51 per metric ton of emissions, the same metric used by the Obama administration.
Judge Cain, a Trump appointee, said the 10 energy-producing states “have sufficiently identified the kinds of harms to support injunctive relief,” citing their arguments that the Biden administration had run afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act and imposed costs on state governments involved in cooperative federalism programs.
“As previously noted, the SC-GHG estimates will harm plaintiff states’ ability to purchase affordable energy to carry out their sovereign functions as the directive to use the SC-GHG estimates will significantly drive up costs while simultaneously significantly decrease states’ revenues,” the judge said in his 44-page order.
He emphasized that his decision to issue the injunction pending the outcome of the lawsuit had nothing to do with the merits of the climate-change debate.
“The court has the authority to enjoin federal agencies from implementing a rule — mandated by an executive order or not — that violates the APA or violates the separation of powers clause,” Judge Cain said. “Importantly, the court is not opining as to the scientific issues regarding greenhouse gas emissions, their effects on the environment, or whether they contribute to global warming.”
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry applauded the ruling, calling it a blow to “the left’s radical, self-defeating green agenda.”
“Biden’s attempt to control the activities of the American people and the activities of every business from Main Street to Wall Street has been halted today,” Mr. Landry said. “Biden’s executive order was an attempt by the government to take over and tax the people based on winners and losers chosen by the government.”
The Trump administration had dropped the estimate from $1 to $7 and disbanded the Interagency Working Group, which was reinstated by Mr. Biden in his executive order issued the first day of his presidency.
“An accurate social cost is essential for agencies to accurately determine the social benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions when conducting cost-benefit analyses of regulatory and other actions,” Mr. Biden stated in his order, dated Jan. 20, 2021.
The judge’s ruling prohibits the administration from “adopting, employing, treating as binding, or relying upon any Social Cost of Greenhouse Gas estimates based on global effects or that otherwise fails to comply with applicable law.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Landry said the effort to determine or impose a social cost on emissions jeopardizes the manufacturing, energy and agricultural sectors.
“While our fight is far from over, I am pleased the court granted preliminary relief against the president’s unacceptable and unauthorized executive overreach; and I remain committed to seeing this case through to the end — fighting every step of the way for the workers and job creators in Louisiana and throughout our republic,” Mr. Landry said.
The other states bringing the lawsuit are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.