SCOTUS Hands Biden a Climate Win

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stop the Biden Administration from continuing to weigh the costs of greenhouse gas emissions as it makes regulatory decisions — at least for now.

Ten Republican-led states had sued to block the federal government’s use of estimates for climate change’s social and economic costs which were developed by an interagency working group (IWG) as a tool for agencies to account for emissions when evaluating programs and regulations. The Obama Administration initiated this process, but the Trump Administration eliminated it. President Biden reinstated the IWG shortly after he took office. 

The challenging states want the federal government to ignore climate change when making regulatory decisions. They found a receptive Trump-appointed federal District Court judge in Louisiana, who issued an injunction blocking the use of the cost estimates. However, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the injunction, and last Thursday the Supreme Court refused to intervene

In its order, the Fifth Circuit found the suing states lacked the grounds to allege they had been damaged by the estimates. The court stated that in any specific regulatory decision using the estimates, states would have an opportunity to show they were harmed and that the cost estimates were unreasonable.

Nothing prevents pro-polluter governors and state attorneys general from suing again, but at least they will be required to do so on a specific case-by-case basis.

These cost estimates are powerful tools for the executive branch, but we still need Congress to pass a major climate bill to meet the president’s emissions goals. Tell them to act now!

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