In the U.S. so far, efforts to enact legislation in Congress to “save the planet” by restricting fossil fuels and transforming our energy economy have gone almost entirely nowhere. President Obama’s big idea of “cap and trade” legislation died early in his first term and was never resurrected. President Biden’s “Green New Deal” has so far suffered a similar fate. If the Republicans retake even one house of Congress later this year, prospects for legislation on this subject may be dead for many years, if not for good.
Surely, you might think, without any legislative support from the Congress, the Executive Branch has little to no power on its own to effect a multi-trillion dollar total transformation of our energy economy. Well, you might think that, and you would have the Constitution on your side; but unfortunately for you, the current President and the bureaucracy think otherwise. In their view, “saving the planet” from you having a warm home in the winter is a moral imperative so compelling that it overrides the Constitution and demands that they have the power to make you do as they say in every respect. Only the courts stand in their way.
But meanwhile, under Biden, there is a bureaucracy-wide full court press underway to do everything they can think of to suppress use of fossil fuels. As discussed here on January 20, on his first day in office Biden issued Executive Order 13990, making it the “policy of [his] Administration” to “reduce greenhouse gases,” and directing every agency to further that policy. Such efforts are in progress throughout the federal bureaucratic behemoth, in every agency from the EPA to the Department of Energy to the SEC to the Federal Reserve to the Agriculture Department and many more.
We can all have our favorites among these dozens of lawless bureaucratic initiatives. But certainly a leading contender for the very worst of the worst is the thing going by the name of the “Social Cost of Carbon” (SCC). If you haven’t heard of it, here’s the idea: Since we all know that CO2 emissions and associated modern lifestyles are destroying the planet, therefore the bureaucracy should declare that these emissions are woefully harming us all, and place an enormous value on that harm, such value to be used in evaluating any proposed project, to be sure that going forward no major project producing or using fossil fuels can ever again be built or implemented. The SCC is not a product of any statutorily-created agency, but rather of something called the “Interagency Working Group,” or IWG, co-ordinated out of the White House.
On Friday, the Federal District Court for the Western District of Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction enjoining all use of the SCC by the federal government pending resolution of the litigation (or action by an appellate court). Here is the court’s Order, and here is the Opinion giving its reasoning. This Opinion and Order are a clear indication that the bureaucracy can no longer count on the court system as patsies to rubber stamp whatever the Left wants at the moment, no matter how ridiculous and how lawless. As of now, this is only a District Court decision, and it has a long way to go through the court system before it is beyond further challenge. But for now the Opinion and Order stand as a major roadblock to Biden Administration “green” plans.
I first dug into the Social Cost of Carbon back in June 2016, when Barack Obama was still President, and the SCC was a shiny new toy recently devised by the bureaucracy. My post had the title “Annals Of Government Fraud.” The post marveled that the bureaucracy, caught up in anti-fossil-fuel hysteria and groupthink, had somehow managed to declare fossil fuels a net negative for humanity, and indeed such a significant net negative that they would come up with a way to block any further development of fossil fuel resources. I noted that benefits of fossil fuels included: “electricity, . . . light, telecommunications, computers, smartphones, the internet, music, television and movies, refrigeration, air conditioning, tools, appliances, . . . automobiles, planes, trains, buses, ships, even motorcycles, . . . mechanized agriculture [which is] the difference between having our food supply produced by 2% of the population (as we have today) versus the 90% of the population it took to produce the food before mechanization . . . .”, etc., etc., etc. Can use of fossil fuels possibly be a net cost versus a net benefit to humanity?
On any conceivable scale of measurement, the benefits to mankind from the use of fossil fuels have to outweigh the negatives by a factor of hundreds if not thousands. The benefits so wildly exceed the costs that the whole effort to try to quantify and weigh the two can’t really even be justified.
On taking office, the Trump administration took steps to neutralize the SCC, so that not much has been heard from it for a while. But Biden’s EO 13990 caused the Obama-era version to get re-instated. The Biden people claim that they are working on further tweaks to the regulations, but meanwhile a large group of Republican-led states went ahead and commenced litigation.
With a regulatory initiative obviously intended to force a gigantic transformation of the economy without statutory basis, the Biden people defended against the Complaint using every shuck and jive and technicality known to man. The SCC rules were not “final” because the administration was still working on a few more tweaks (and then a few more, and then a few more); the state plaintiffs lacked “standing” because the harm was to citizens rather than the state itself; and so forth. The court was having none of it.
The heart of the court’s decision is its determination that the SCC falls under the Supreme Court’s “major questions doctrine,” under which the bureaucracy cannot on its own authority impose “new obligations of vast economic and political significance” unless Congress “speaks clearly.” The states had identified some 83 pending projects involving something in the range of $447 and $561 billion dollars as affected by the SCC rule. That impressed the court as easily within the concept of “major questions.” From the court’s Opinion, pages 30-31:
Plaintiff States argue that the SC-GHG Estimates implicate a matter of major importance and there is no statutory authority for the Executive branch to issue the SC-GHG Estimates. The major questions doctrine ensures that agencies do not impose new obligations of “vast ‘economic and political significance’” upon private parties and States unless Congress “speaks clearly.” . . . Plaintiff States assert that the SC-GHG Estimates will impose significant costs on the economy. The total cost of these 83 regulatory actions [using social costs] is estimated to be between $447 billion and $561 billion (in 2020 dollars).” Courts have found that less costly and far-reaching regulations have triggered the major questions doctrine.
We are at the beginning of what could be a very long battle. The bureaucracy has many ways to wear down its opponents.
Social Cost of Carbon calculations have so many arbitrary figures and assumptions included they are basically meaningless.
As a simple example, I have seen references that merely changing the discount rate will change a cost to a benefit, and the Obama figure used an unrealistically low discount rate.
Indeed. EPS’s own rules require using a 7% discount rate when determining costs. However, when you have already decided what the end result must be and are merely back calculating as a fig leaf, you can use 3% as the SCC did in their calculations.
Sorry, EPA not EPS.
Sorry not EPA but OMB Circular A-4 states that discount rates of 3 and 7% should be used in regulatory impact calculations. Judge Cain noted this.
Do they consider the benefits of carbon?
They don’t know that there are any, because every time someone tries to tell them they stick their fingers in their ears and shout “la la la la la.”
You mean that without atmospheric CO2, life would not exist? They seem to think that more of a good thing must be bad.
Add in the idiots don’t know and have not been told that every carbon atom in their body was once in CO2. I beginning to wonder if they even know or every have been told they are a carbon based life form.
Sometimes I wonder: often they come across as silicon-based and unable to deviate from their programming.
If IRRC, Willis E. did a “back-of-the-envelope” calculation some while back and came up with a net positive for the World GDP of something like $5,000/ton of CO2 equivalent.
The SCC is a big goof. Take all the things you love about the IPCC reports, add economics, and remove reason.
The single biggest driver of the SCC is the future cost of air conditioning in Asia.
Anti-carbon is anti-social.
Anti-carbon is white supremacy…C’mon Scissor
Anti-carbon is anti-life, period.
Another fantastic question for the justices might be: Where in the Constitution is this authority delegated to the federal government? We all know the answer is “nowhere.” But properly delegating a new power to the central government requires an amendment, and the last thing our DC overlords of the elite caste want is a vote of the people—the slugs they refer to as the masses, the Deplorables, people in fly-over country.
Don’t you know that the Commerce Clause grants all power to the federal government.
There is absolutely nothing that can’t be justified under it.
“General Welfare” lets the slugs in.
I don’t think SCOTUS has cared about Constitutional authority for quite a while. When hearing about OSHA vaccine mandate, Constitutional limitations weren’t even considered from what I could tell.
How much are they paying McKinsey for this clap trap push?
What is really odd is how people think large bad decisions will never impact them. Like the truck drives in Canada if you take all their money and they cannot drive what was the gain? Trucks still don’t move, stuff still doesn’t get delivered, and the truckers still aren’t vaccinated.
“…and the truckers still aren’t vaccinated.”
More than 90% are vaccinated…
Again, SOB, you miss the point entirely. Cute doesn’t equal intelligence.
The government seizes the trucks and gives them to drivers who will do what government tells them to do. It’s the socialist way.
Hee, hee, hee. Were does the government get the new drivers?
Like the Wizard of Oz, government believes that if you give out certificates, you can create all the drivers you need.
socialism: you have a truck seized from the unvaxxed
the truck breaks down because you don’t know how to operate it
Reminds me of Venezuela and their oil industry. Or Zimbabwe and their farms.
Or Cuba with their cigars.
How does one measure social cost?
The social costs of leaving it in the ground far outweigh the costs of utilising fossil fuels.
Prices in the UK have shot up and they are not going to come down, because while supply is being reduced, demand isn’t.
“Fracking: UK’s only shale gas wells to be sealed and abandoned
The UK’s only two shale gas wells are to be abandoned after the industry regulator ordered them to be sealed.”
Places like Qatar are in for boom times at our expense
yeah I like to call the fossil fuel extraction denial “the big carry trade”
someday it will be used by someone smarter
How to measure social cost? Let the historical market price give you a clue.
Chicago Climate Exchange ending Dec. 31, 2010, known as Carbon Financial Instruments (CFIs) once traded as high as $7.50 per metric ton of CO2-equivalent emissions, but as of last Friday, the exchange trading price was just 5 cents per metric ton, the same price they’ve been at for more than a year.
Those selling / trading went broke, unless like Algore, got out early.
It appears to me that any kind of Federal Court ruling of any significance is headed for final ruling from the Supreme Court. The Supremes are saying “Stop in the name of love” to a lot of looney Marxists ideas, so there is hope for eventual sanity to return. Wait for it.
Voters will take care of the problem.
The Biden administration thinks that they can get what they want before the courts rule against them and since the wheels of justice are slow, the harm that results will be hard to undo. For example, inflation.
IF the elections are fair.
“The Supremes are saying “Stop in the name of love” to a lot of looney Marxists ideas, so there is hope for eventual sanity to return. Wait for it.“
Since the beginning of the Republic, the ‘Supremes’ have betrayed the Constitution more times than you can shake a stick at. The rightful remedy against Federal overreach is always state nullification of any edict that is not promulgated pursuant to the Constitution.
The executive branch routinely, knowingly violates laws and procedures. Their attitude is “so sue me.” There is always a chance they will win in court. The Brandon regime is full of progressive activists who aren’t about to let things such as lawfulness or constitutionality bind their actions.
When you have a world to save, morality is just an inconvenience.
The current Cabal of Democrat leaders are ruthless, lawless and dangerous to the personal freedoms of all of us. Political power and control are what motivate these radical Democrats. Nothing else matters to them, not laws and not morals.
This radical Democrat Cabal is made up of Clinton/Obama/Biden officials, and Clinton, Obama and Biden themselves. They are traitors to their country, imo, since they subverted government to use it as a weapon against their political opponents.
These are the people that want to take our freedoms away and are currently doing their best to do so.
But their time is running short. The People are waking up.
In their view, “saving the planet” from you having a warm home in the winter is a moral imperative so compelling –> Oh, but, they have no morals, so this is a load of horse hockey pucks. It is only compelling that they have the power to turn off your electricity and deprive you and yours of heat, a means of cooking, and a means of not being left in the dark.
If only we could save the planet from THEM. (No, not those giant ants in the desert. They were so cute, weren’t they?)
If The They want us to go back to the 18th century and live that way, fine by me, because I can handle it.
But THEY HAVE TO DO IT FIRST!!!!!
“No, not those giant ants in the desert. They were so cute, weren’t they?”
Them! : 1954 Sci-Fi/Horror movie. Said to be one of the best of that era.
If you thought they were “cute”, you must have had an interesting childhood.
Anyway, I can not resist. Here is the original theater trailer (3 minutes).
One of many movies where the monsters were spawned by, wait for it, nuclear radiation. For certain the resulting ‘fear’ played a big role in the public’s resistance to a much larger roll-out of nuclear power plants.
Stay in your homes…it’s…COVID!!!
Incredibly prescient, this movie, at least in terms of pronouns…
For non-lawyers and law students:
enjoin: to prohibit by a judicial order : put an injunction on
Democrats have repeatedly proven they simply ignore courts when they want to so depending on judges and court rulings to stop them is not really a good idea.
Don’t forget though that there are work-arounds, such as RGGI. It is a regional scheme of cap-and-trade, thus sidesteps constitutional issues. States can always opt out, but the pressure to conform is so great that not even the Republicans have the cajones to go against it.
Except states can’t enter into inter-state compacts without the express permission of congress.
Except the Compact Clause is rather toothless. The standard appears to be whether an agreement between states encroaches upon “Federal Supremacy”, and apparently RGGI doesn’t meet that standard.
Did not even slow RGGI down.
Again, to them the Constitution is just nuisance and a relic of the past.
US Constitution: Article I, Section 8 Powers of Congress
“To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;”
How many decades has the been ignored?
Not an expert, but suspect that the National Defense Authorization Act probably complies with this.
I think a better example is how Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Act in 1798, as if the First Amendment, passed in 1791, never existed.
If they start claiming social costs, doesn’t the other side get to argue social benefits?
I know there has been at least one judge who tossed out an opportunistic lawsuit saying that the cost benefit ratio of fossil fuels far outweighed any of the negative effects.
Notice how they completely ignore the Social Benefit of Carbon.
If you’re going to act based on the harm something causes, you also have to weigh the benefits.
Judge Alsup of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco said the following:
So, even if the bureaucrats were able to prevail on the matter of their right to issue the regulations in question, they still have to prove that they have correctly weighed the harms vs. the benefits.
I would say the benefits of fossil fuels outweigh the harms by orders of magnitude.
The assertion that anthropogenic CO2 has caused global warming is still an unproven hypothetical. Sure, CO2 is a greenhouse gas at some wavelengths in a closed laboratory experiment. Out in the real world, … not proven.
Not only would you say it, Judge Alsup would say it as well.
On 21 March 2018 in the case you refer to, San Francisco and Oakland v. BP and four other Oil Companies, Judge Alsup took the unusual step of holding a court seminar on climate change.
His honour contended that the benefits must be weighed against the historical costs of fossil fuels.
The Plaintiffs filed a brief of their contentions and Professors Happer,Koonin and Lindzen filed an Amicus Curiae brief as did Viscount Monckton and a group of others including Willie Soon.
On 18 June 2018 the Plaintiff’s claims were dismissed essentially because these were issues for the Congressional branch and for international Conventions not for the judiciary, a view that has widely prevailed in Superior Courts in the US.
Anyone who thinks that the Industrial Revolution was a mistake and anything but a bénéfice needs serious counselling.
The cost of decarbonising
“ Villagers were woken by a 300ft wind turbine crashing down on a Welsh mountainside – after it was blown over during storms which brought 50pmh winds.”
£20 million for that
If 50mph storms are enough to topple a wind turbine, I’d hate to see what a big storm would do.
They must build them better in North Dakota. A fifty mile and hour is a windy day, a 25 MPH wind is a normal day. As I say if you can’t fish in a 25mph wind you don’t fish in North Dakota.
Our family farm was just 20 miles NNE of GF ND. We were on the MN side of the Red river. Best dirt in the world. There was always a constant 15mph breeze out of the north
This particular turbine’s cutout wind speed is 25 m/s, or 56 mph. It doesn’t have an entry for survival speed, but I would think it should certainly survive its cutout speed, and even more certainly ~90% of that speed!
Brilliant: a piece of machinery that can only work with wind is destroyed by….
Green idiocy eating itself.
Just watched a new interview of Dave Rubin by John Stossel. Dave made what I thought was a very insightful comment on how our politics here in the US is no longer Right vs. Left but has devolved into an oppressor vs. oppressed or victimizer vs. victim ideology. I believe this dynamic may underpin the SCC initiative. The “carbon” is not the issue here, it’s just a convenient vehicle to exploit the (oppressor use of fossil fuels) that victimizes the (oppressed suffering climate change). All political, science be damned.
So, which side self-identifies as the oppressors and victimizers?
It’s actually devolved into the loony left vs. everybody else.
Sorry to say it is evolving into fascism where the “state” tells private companies what to make and how much if they wish to stay in business.
“In terms of economics, fascism incorporates elements of both capitalism and socialism. Fascist economists advocate for self-sufficiency and individual profit, but promote government subsidies of corporations. Fascist economics thus supports a blend of both private and public ownership over the means of production—there is an emphasis on private profit, but at the same time, the national interest is ultimately more important.”
The national interest is ultimately more important and subsidies are provided when you do what the government wants. Sound familiar?
Climate grant illustrates growth in philanthropy-funded news
By DAVID BAUDER
“NEW YORK (AP) — The Associated Press said Tuesday that it is assigning more than two dozen journalists across the world to cover climate issues, in the news organization’s largest single expansion paid for through philanthropic grants.
The announcement illustrates how philanthropy has swiftly become an important new funding source for journalism — at the AP and elsewhere — at a time when the industry’s financial outlook has been otherwise bleak.
The AP’s new team, with journalists based in Africa, Brazil, India and the United States, will focus on climate change’s impact on agriculture, migration, urban planning, the economy, culture and other areas. Data, text and visual journalists are included, along with the capacity to collaborate with other newsrooms, said Julie Pace, senior vice president and executive editor.
“This far-reaching initiative will transform how we cover the climate story,” Pace said.
The grant is for more than $8 million over three years, and about 20 of the climate journalists will be new hires. The AP has appointed Peter Prengaman as its climate and environment news director to lead the team.
Five organizations are contributing to the effort: the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Quadrivium, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.
It’s the most recent of a series of grants the AP has received since the mid-2010s to boost coverage in health and science, religion, water issues and philanthropy itself. Some 50 AP journalists have jobs funded through grants.
For many years, Journalists and philanthropists were more wary of each other. News organizations were concerned about maintaining independence and, until the past two decades, financially secure enough not to need help. Philanthropists didn’t see the need, or how journalists could help them achieve their goals.
Nonprofit news organizations like ProPublica and Texas Tribune led the way in changing minds. The Salt Lake Tribune, which in 2019 became a nonprofit to attract more donors, and The Seattle Times are other pioneers.
A grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting was instrumental in AP’s coverage of the conflict in Yemen that won a 2019 Pulitzer Prize, said Brian Carovillano, AP news vice president who supervises partnerships and grants. The AP’s pandemic coverage has been bolstered by funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education.
The climate funding is a big boost after years where the AP was frustrated that the company’s ambitions were bigger than its capabilities to achieve them, he said.
“Do you want to do it right or do you want to do it well enough?” Carovillano said. “My answer to that is always that I want to do it right. I want to go as big as we can possibly go, and I think that should always be the AP’s ambition.”
The New York Times last year launched its first major grant-funded project, called Headway, devoting a six-person team to produce stories on how people in the past expected the future to play out and how it actually did. One story that resulted was Michael Kimmelman’s look at how New York City has rebounded from Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
“As far as we’re concerned, it has been really seamless,” said Monica Drake, assistant managing editor at the Times. “It has allowed us to focus on things we want to cover and to do it independently.”
AP often needs to educate funders upon first approach, explaining the company’s worldwide reach and mission to report independently. AP accepts money to cover certain areas but without strings attached; the funders have no influence on the stories that are done, Carovillano said.
Both sides had things to learn.
For Carovillano, it was getting used to the idea that funders weren’t just being generous; they had their own goals to achieve. “This is a mutually beneficial arrangement,” he said…”
How is this any different from taking money from Philip Morris to fund stories about the benefits of tobacco?
You are, of course, correct.
Basically, the Associated Press just admitted that its news reports are for sale.
“For Carovillano, it was getting used to the idea that funders weren’t just being generous; they had their own goals to achieve.”
The guy that supervises the ‘grants’ says he had to put effort into the understanding that people that give you money have their own goals …? Carovillano is a liar, and/or idiot, and he thinks most others are idiots.
Excuse me, but when I read the ruling by the judge it sounded like he was thwarting the federal government from stifling many fossil fuel industries from doing business.
Will have to review the original Executive Order from Joe, but first take was a stalemate between greenie ignorant folks and folks trying to get your house cool in summer and warm in winter.
Enlighten all of us if you can decode the ruling.
Great, let them use their renewables to make the extra renewables they will need to power their sustainable lifestyle.
And no cheating by using oil and gas in the process.
And, of course, if they were actually “renewable” then materials they are made of must “renew” themselves.
Where are cobalt, lithium, copper, limestone (to make concrete), etc. renewing themselves?
the cost lol
no place on Earth is too hot for agriculture or human occupation (only too dry), but much of it is too cold
just imagine if the 1940s to 1970s trend, roughly the mirror of the satellite-era .17 per decade, had continued to the present
we would be seriously discussing the evacuation of Canada and Northern Europe
even as crop yields fell and dust levels rose, inexorable and unsympathetic
famine increasing every decade, mass starvation across the Third World
even ten feet of sea level rise since 1979 would have been less problematic than cooling
this planet is not only just barely warm enough to be habitable in the first place, but also currently near the end of the interglacial cycle, where one good volcanic kick could send us into a civilization-ending fast freeze
The next time that Republicans gain control of Congress – likely this coming November – Congress should legally adopt legislation ordering all Executive Departments to consider the SCLWW – the “Social Cost of Liberal Weanies and Warmunism – for all Federal actions.
I guarantee that SCLWW will be a hugely net negative drain on the lives of modern humans in the USA. The cost of freezing to death in the dark, and/or starving to death in the dark, and being unable to travel anywhere at all.
The United States of America met the unratified 1997 Kyoto protocol in 2005 by reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by over 7%. It did this by replacing incandescent lighting, switching to LED technology, reducing coal power generation, using smaller and more efficient internal combustion engines and eliminating excess vehicle weight.
The worldwide results as shown by Mauna Loa CO2 measurements were zilch. In fact, they were worse than zero, they got worse.
John Kerry, the former U.S. Secretary of State, stated that even if the U.S. eliminated all its carbon emissions, “that still wouldn’t be enough to offset the carbon pollution coming from the rest of the world.”
What is it called when you keep doing the same thing over and over but expect different results?
As a thought experiment, what is social cost of shipping goods by sail or diesel.
A modern 20,000 unit container ship (30 crew) would move 100 times the cargo of the fastest/biggest clippers (100 crew)
Crew losses in 19 century might be 1-10% say 5%.
So 500 sailors would die in 19 century per equivalent one 21 century voyage.
There is no SCC.
There is an SBCO2.
The Social Benefit of Carbon Dioxide.
1) Any Executive Order issued by a President can be vacated by a future president.
2) Executive Orders were supposed to be emergency orders that will be enshrined in law by Congress, or defeated.
3) Congress can cancel an Executive Order simply by passing legislation and if necessary overriding a veto. The resulting law is dominant.
4) Courts are supposed to be last options, especially when it is a difference of opinion between branches of government. A court is unlikely to intercede between branches of government unless the issue in question is Constitutional.
“1) Any Executive Order issued by a President can be vacated by a future president.” That may have been true until Trump came into office, more that one court would not allow Trump to vacate Oblama executive orders, even the illegal ones.
From the article: “We are at the beginning of what could be a very long battle. The bureaucracy has many ways to wear down its opponents.”
This is true. The Federal Bureaucracy needs massive reform. They are getting too big for their britches.
Joe Biden just announced he was going to try to get the cost of gasoline down, and Democrats are even suggesting stopping federal gasoline taxes, so if that’s the case, how can Biden and the Democrats justifiy putting a cost on carbon dioxide which causes gasoline prices to rise?
Our leaders are living in a delusion, and are leading us in the wrong direction as a consequence.
Let’s hope we can change this soon by electing some new leadership that is more in tune with the real world.