CRI News

Biden's dictatorial instincts lose in court again
By David T. Stevenson (pictured)
Center for Energy & Environmental Policy
February 14, 2022
President Biden seems to misunderstand the power of his office. A stream of executive orders in the first days of his administration attempted to instantly override various laws and regulations. An increasing number have been overturned by various courts. In the latest example, his order establishing how cost/benefit analysis would use a high value for carbon dioxide emission reductions was overturned.  
During the Obama Administration, a lengthy review established an estimate of the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) emissions to be used to justify mostly tighter EPA regulations. There were serious flaws in the methodology used to establish the value, but at least the required time-consuming administrative procedures were honored. 
The flaws made a huge difference. The Office of Management & Budget creates specific rules in its Circular A-4. For example, you need to compare apples to apples. So if a rule has a domestic cost, it needs to be compared to a domestic benefit. The Obama era SCC compared domestic costs to global benefits.
The rule also establishes discount rates to be used to establish the Net Present Value of an action. For long-term benefits, you are supposed to use 7%, not the 3% that the Obama Administration used to make benefits many decades away look more valuable compared to costs that start immediately after a regulation is established.
It took three years for the Trump Administration to review and revise the SCC following the required procedures and Circular A-4. For perspective, the Trump era SCC used a current value of $7/ton of CO2 emissions saved compared to $51/ton in the Biden Executive Order. Both estimates failed to consider the very real benefit of increased plant growth when atmospheric levels of CO2 rise.
NASA satellite images show the earth is about 10% greener than in the past, and numerous studies show higher farm output with less watering. Greenhouse growers often pump CO2 up two to four times ambient to increase crop size. A review by the Heritage Foundation found higher emissions turn to a net positive benefit when this greening effect is included.
Unfortunately, the lesson of lost cases doesn't appear to be sinking in as the regulatory state keeps pushing out new lawless decisions. For example, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management published a final "Environmental Impact Statement" for an offshore wind project in only nine days which would usually take years to complete.


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