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frESH: Perspectives on Environmental, Safety & Health

Obama Administration Extends Comment Period on Social Cost of Carbon in the US

Posted in Air Quality, Climate Change & Sustainability, Energy & Natural Resources, Municipal Utilities, Rulemaking & Policy Development

As a follow up to our previous report, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has extended the public comment period on the Obama Administration’s November 2013 technical support document (TSD) on the social cost of carbon (SCC) by 30 days to February 26, 2014.   The extension came in response to requests by industry for more time to review the technical report and other scientific literature before the comment period expired.

The SCC is used to estimate the societal value of marginal reductions in carbon emissions, and it attempts to account for changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, and property damages from increased flood risk, among other things.  The SCC has the potential to significantly impact the cost-benefit analysis of future greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations, particularly for large energy generating units.   The SCC concept could allow the Administration to claim large economic benefits for any greenhouse gas regulation that reduces carbon and minimizes the more traditional economic costs of such rulemakings, such as lost jobs and higher energy prices.  The SCC also could be used in opposition to projects like the Keystone XL pipeline by claiming that the social impacts of carbon energy development are too high.

Comments can be submitted electronically to OMB via www.regulations.gov until February 26, 2014.  In addition, on February 6, 2014, USEPA will hold a public hearing regarding carbon pollution standards for new power plants.