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Playing with Fire

Responding to Criticism of the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases

This working paper is forthcoming in the Yale Journal on Regulation as "The Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases: Legal, Economic, and Institutional Perspective."

In early 2021, two state-led coalitions—one led by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, the other by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry—filed suit in federal district court seeking to enjoin agency usage of the Working Group’s interim social cost estimates. The complaints in these suits raise some familiar arguments against the Working Group’s methodology. Federal agencies will need to offer considered and detailed responses to objections raised in the notice-and-comment processes for individual regulations or administrative actions that apply the Working Group’s social cost valuations. Given its expertise, the Working Group should consider providing such responses now, so that agencies can then incorporate them into future actions. This working paper offers a blueprint for those responses.