Why the Social Cost of Carbon Does Not Capture Critical Climate Damages and What That Means for Policymakers
The Social Cost of Carbon, developed by the Obama-era Interagency Working Group (IWG), is the best available tool for measuring the economic damages from greenhouse gas emissions. It has been used in analysis for over 100 federal regulations that affect greenhouse gas emissions, as well as by a number of states in electricity and climate policy. Still, many significant impacts identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are difficult to quantify and so have been omitted from the IWG SCC estimates. Impacts such as increased fire risk, slower economic growth, and large-scale migration are all unaccounted for, despite their potential to cause large economic losses. Our new issue brief discusses these omissions and other variables that will influence climate outcomes. We encourage policymakers to account for this likely underestimate by viewing the SCC as a lower bound for damages.
Academic Article/Working Paper
The principle of federalism has become something of a rallying cry in recent efforts by the Trump Administration and its allies to scale back environmental regulation. For example, during his short and troubled tenure, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt argued that the federal government has become too intrusive and that states should be returned to a position of “regulatory primacy” on environmental matters. Some states have responded to the impeding federal retreat by forging ahead. For example, California has continued to take aggressive steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and has even taken steps to project its influence internationally. However, despite these hopeful signs of resistance, the net effect of the Trump Administration’s efforts to scale back federal environmental policy is likely to undermine rather than energize state environmental policymaking, especially in Republican-dominated and swing states, where the climate policy vacuum is most acute.
Academic Article/Working Paper
This article, published in the New York University Law Review, tackles a question that has vexed the administrative state for the last half century: how to seriously take account of the distributional consequences of regulation. Academic literature has largely accepted the view that distributional concerns should be moved out of the regulatory domain and into Congress’s tax policy portfolio. In doing so, it has overlooked the fact that tax policy is ill suited to provide compensation for significant environmental, health, and safety harms. And the congressional gridlock that has bedeviled us for several decades makes this enterprise even more of a nonstarter. The time has come to make distributional consequences a core concern of the regulatory state – otherwise, future socially beneficial regulations could well encounter significant roadblocks. This article provides the blueprint for the establishment of a standing, broadly constituted interagency body charged with addressing serious negative consequences of regulatory measures on particular groups.
Trump-Era Regulatory Suspensions and the Rule of Law
Our report provides a survey of the legality of Trump Administration’s regulatory suspensions. Looking at a number of cases, we discuss the administration’s disregard for notice-and-comment requirements, statutory restrictions, and the reasoned explanation requirement. We also lay out some of the challenges facing advocates, and the strategies by which agencies have evaded review.
An Analysis of EPA’s Authority to Withdraw California’s Preemption Waiver Under Section 209 of the Clean Air Act
For 50 years, California has enjoyed unique authority to regulate air pollution from newly manufactured motor vehicles. While the Clean Air Act preempts all other states from setting their own vehicle emission standards, California can request a waiver to do so if it determines that its standards are at least as protective of public health and welfare as federal standards issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”). Once a waiver is granted, other states can adopt California’s more stringent vehicle emissions standards as their own. EPA has now proposed to withdraw the waiver California received in 2013 to set its own greenhouse gas emission standards. Because a waiver withdrawal would be entirely unprecedented, neither courts nor legal scholars have previously had cause to discuss the circumstances, if any, under which a waiver might permissibly be withdrawn. This report analyzes whether EPA possesses revocation authority and, assuming it exists at all, when and how such authority may be exercised. It is an update to the August 2018 version of the same report.
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