The Supreme Court rejects an attempt by red states to block the Biden administration from using a key measure of climate accounting in its decision-making.
In a new order Thursdaythe High Court rejected the states’ request to review a decision that allowed the Biden administration to use the measure of climate impacts.
The order did not make it possible to understand the reasoning of the court.
The tool in question, known as the “social costs” of greenhouse gases, is a set of values that helps the government calculate the climate costs or benefits of its actions.
For example, the values can be used to help the government quantify the benefits of regulations that prevent global warming carbon dioxide from being released into the air or the additional harm that could be caused by approving of a project that emits a lot.
The Obama, Trump and Biden administrations have all used social cost values for greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, but the Trump administration has imposed a much lower cost on their release.
A higher cost of these gases can be used to justify stricter climate actions, while a lower cost could justify less strict actions.
Republican attorneys general have challenged the Biden administration’s cost estimates.
They said their states are harmed when high values are used to assess the potential for oil and gas leasing on their land. Since states receive revenue from these leases, they may find themselves harmed if less land is leased due to climate costs, the attorneys general argued.
At their request, a federal court in Louisiana temporarily blocked the Biden administration’s use of the metric in February, but in March that decision was halted, reinstating the use of social costs.
Late last month, 10 Republican attorneys general asked the Supreme Court to again block the administration’s use of social costs.
The new order is separate from a major climate case that the court says could limit the tools the Environmental Protection Agency has to regulate climate change.