White House OMB discusses social cost of carbon

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On July 2, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) published a blog post outlining changes to its calculation of the social cost of carbon, which stands at $36/ton for 2015.

Some Republicans in Congress, such as Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), have raised questions about how the administration has been calculating the social cost of carbon, which previously was $22/ton.

Conservative critics have said carbon’s social cost is largely a “guestimate” that cannot be objectively measured in economic models.

The social cost of carbon is defined as the long-term dollar value of one ton of carbon dioxide's (CO2) damage to society. This social cost calculation is a tool that helps federal agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decide which carbon-reducing regulatory approaches make the most sense.

EPA is expected to issue a final version of its Clean Power Plan, to cut power sector CO2 30 percent by 2030, later this summer.

The OMB blog also and announced the publication of a formal response to the 150 substantive comments and 39,000 form letters submitted in 2013 during the last public comment period on the SCC.

In addition, OMB has requested the assistance of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine to assist with future updates to ensure the value is as accurate and effective as possible. The public will continue to receive opportunities to comment on the SCC.

In November 2013 OMB published a Federal Register notice seeking comments on the technical support document on the technical update for the SCC under Executive Order 12866.

The comments had to be submitted by Jan. 27, 2014. The federal calculation of the social cost of carbon can evidently be traced back to a federal appeals court ruling several years ago.

In 2007 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals remanded a fuel economy rule to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for failing to monetize the benefits of the CO2 emissions reductions in its regulatory impact analysis, noting that ̣̟͟the value of carbon emissions reduction is certainly not zero.

In another carbon-related blog from OMB, the organization published a blog post July 1 that requested that federal agencies consider the impacts of climate change in their 2017 federal budget requests.

The White House wants funding requests “to align with the administration’s climate preparedness and resilience goals,” according to OMB.

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