Twelve mostly red states say adding up the “social costs” of greenhouse gases will gut their economies.
(CN) — Missouri led 12 states on Monday challenging the Biden administration Green New Deal-inspired decision to calculate the social costs of emitting greenhouse gases.
“Setting the ‘social cost’ of greenhouse gases is an inherently speculative, policy-laden, and indeterminate task, which involves attempting to predict such unknowable contingencies as future human migrations, international conflicts, and global catastrophes for hundreds of years into the future,” the mostly red states say in their the 46-page complaint.
Describing the separation of powers as a “fundamental bulwark of liberty,” the lawsuit counters that it falls on Congress to regulate the social costs associated with greenhouse gases, not the executive branch.
President Joe Biden signed the “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science To Tackle the Climate Crisis” order on Jan. 25.
In between halting new oil and gas leases on public lands and revoking permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, Biden created a working group to calculate the social costs of emitting carbon, nitrous oxide, and methane — gases responsible for climate change.
“It is essential that agencies capture the full costs of greenhouse gas emissions as accurately as possible, including by taking global damages into account,” Biden’s order says. “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.”
The working group published interim social costs on Feb 26, but final rules will not go into effect until June 1, 2022.
The initial report estimated the social costs associated with producing carbon dioxide to hit $51 per metric ton, methane $1,500 per metric ton and nitrous oxide $18,000 per metric ton, adding up to an estimated $9.5 trillion in social costs generated through 2020.
With “manure and flatulence from livestock” producing roughly a third of methane emissions in the United States, the lawsuit warns that on this scale the social costs of producing meat, milk and eggs adds up to $268 billion annually.
“From higher energy bills to lost jobs, this massive expansion of federal regulatory power has the potential to impact nearly every household in this state,” Missouri Attorney General Schmitt said in a statement.
Alongside the Show Me State, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah joined the lawsuit challenging Biden’s authority to implement the social cost criteria into regulatory actions.
“The power to regulate is the power to destroy, and our Constitution does not vest in the president the unilateral authority to regulate virtually every aspect of the American economy,” the states say in their complaint.
In addition to Biden, the lawsuit names as defendants the federal agencies that would use social costs in cost-benefit analyses, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Agriculture, and the Interior Department.
“In theory, the Biden administration’s calculation of ‘social costs’ would justify imposing trillions of dollars in regulatory costs on the American economy every year to offset these supposed costs,” the lawsuit warns. “The emission of these three gases is thus ubiquitous in human activity, especially agriculture and energy production.”
Among the plaintiffs, Kansas attorney general Derek Schmidt worried about the impact of increased regulatory costs on his state’s economy.
“This order would result in new regulations that would significantly burden Kansas agriculture, energy production and manufacturing,” Schmidt said in a statement. “No president has authority to impose this massive job-killing cost on our economy by executive order.”
The states want a judge to declare section five of Biden’s executive order unconstitutional and block the working group from implementing rules.