Policy: Environment & Energy

No wrongdoing in 'social cost of carbon' development, says federal watchdog

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Politics,Climate Change,EPA,PennAve,Energy and Environment,Global Warming,Zack Colman,Electricity,Social Cost of Carbon,Greenhouse Gases,Power Plants

The federal government used sound methods to develop its updated "social cost of carbon," a tool used to measure damages inflicted by rising carbon pollution, *according to the Government Accountability Office.

The GAO said federal agencies used viable academic models and sources, disclosed the limitations of its estimates and included new information, and followed a consensus-based decision process when updating the social cost of carbon. The agency made no recommendations to agencies for changing their processes.

The Obama administration raised the social cost of carbon in 2013 from its introductory level in 2010, a move that incensed conservatives and industry groups. Opponents said they were concerned the new value would unnecessarily inflate the costs of carbon emissions and, in the process, overstate the benefits of taking regulatory action to curb greenhouse gases.

The new social cost of carbon value is baked into the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed emissions rule for power plants, which is due for finalization next June.

The EPA estimated up to $31 billion of global climate benefits in 2030 — the agency's proposal aims to cut national electricity emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by that year — from reducing carbon emissions that a strong scientific consensus says propel climate change.

Environmental and public health groups have defended the social cost of carbon and said the Obama administration's estimate is more timid that some models.

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