Senators Seek White House Response to Public Comments on Carbon's Social Cost

Energy and Climate Report provides current, thorough coverage of clean energy, efficiency, and climate change legislation, regulation, policy, legal developments, and trends in the U.S. and...

By Andrew Childers

March 9 — The Obama administration has not yet responded to public comments on its revised social cost of carbon figure solicited more than a year ago, 11 Republican senators said in a March 9 letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The senators asked Howard Shelanski, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, whether the Office of Management and Budget has reviewed the comments and whether it intends to respond.

“Above all, it is only reasonable for the public to know how OIRA plans to use their comments,” the senators said. “We want to encourage public participation in the regulatory process, not stifle it by ignoring those individuals who engaged in the process by submitting comments.”

The letter was spearheaded by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and signed by Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), David Vitter (R-La.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.).

The Office of Management and Budget could not be reached for comment.

The social cost of carbon is used to calculate the social and economic cost of regulations that affect carbon dioxide emissions, including effects on agriculture, human health and property damage from extreme weather. It was increased from $24 a metric ton in 2010 to $37 a metric ton in 2013.

The White House sought additional public comment on the figure in January 2014 after the social cost of carbon was reduced from $38 per metric ton to $37 per metric ton following additional modeling.

Carbon Cost Being Applied 

Federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Department already have used the updated social cost of carbon figure to inform their regulations, but the Office of Management and Budget has not yet responded to the comments it requested, the senators said.

“While we continue to have significant concerns over the process establishing and the substance underlying the [social cost of carbon], public information on the estimates is paramount given its increasing application to federal—and state—programs,” they said.

The senators asked the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to respond by March 30.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Childers in Washington at achilders@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

The senators' letter is available at http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/r?Open=achs-9ufp5w.