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States Challenge Biden Approach to Climate Metric in Lawsuit (1)

April 22, 2021, 6:02 PMUpdated: April 22, 2021, 9:20 PM

A new coalition of states is taking aim at the Biden administration’s approach to calculating the financial impacts of climate change.

Louisiana led nine other states Thursday in a lawsuit challenging President Joe Biden’s decision to restore Obama-era values for an analytical tool called the social cost of greenhouse gases. Agencies use the metric to assess the harm caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases. The Trump administration slashed the value, and the Biden administration reversed course in February.

The new case is the latest legal challenge from Republican attorneys general determined to fight the Biden administration’s ambitious environmental agenda. It comes as Biden convenes world leaders Thursday to discuss efforts to address climate change.

Louisiana and the other states argue that the Interagency Working Group that crafted the underlying values for the social cost of greenhouse gases never followed proper public notice and comment procedures, despite the tool’s broad application to federal regulations.

“The Founders ratified a written Constitution, and Congress enacted the Administrative Procedure Act, to prevent precisely this kind of unilateral and arbitrary attack on State sovereignty and individual liberty,” the suit says.

Joining Louisiana in the case are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming. A separate coalition of states led by Missouri filed a similar challenge in March.

“This ‘social cost’ overreach revives an Obama-era scheme that unnecessarily forces the monetary cost of a global issue on American governments, businesses, and families,” Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) said in a statement. Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) likewise argued that Biden decision applies a “highly biased feel-good rationale that has the potential to significantly harm industries critical to the nation’s and my state’s livelihood.”

The Trump administration also used the social cost of greenhouse gases, but assigned a much lower value to represent the cost of emissions.

Causes of Action: Administrative Procedure Act.

Relief: Declaratory and injunctive relief barring agencies from using the Biden values for the social cost of greenhouse gases.

Response: The White House referred questions about the case to the Justice Department, which declined to comment.

Attorneys: The state attorney general offices represent the states.

The case is Louisiana v. Biden, W.D. La., No. 2:21-cv-01074, 4/22/21.

(Updated with additional reporting throughout.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at egilmer@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; Rebecca Baker at rbaker@bloombergindustry.com

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