Bloomberg Law
Dec. 6, 2021, 11:00 AM

States to Face Feds in Hearing on Social Cost of Carbon Metric

Maya Earls
Maya Earls
Legal Reporter

The federal government will argue that it should avoid a lawsuit by Louisiana, Alabama, and eight other states over its estimates on the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions, in a hearing before a federal judge Tuesday.

The states will use their time to try to convince the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana that it should block the estimates from going into effect while their lawsuit proceeds.

The estimates conflict with the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, Clean Air Act, and National Environmental Policy Act, the states say. Energy, chemical manufacturing, and agricultural sectors will face increased regulations due to the standards, and that will harm state economies that rely on industry tax revenue, they allege.

The Biden administration doesn’t have the authority to authorize the estimates, the states argue. If Congress wants the president to implement “sweeping new costs for greenhouse gas effects,” it should do so clearly, their motion says.

The states’ alleged injuries are speculative, the Justice Department told Judge James D. Cain Jr., who is hearing the dispute. Even though President Joe Biden wants agencies to use the interim estimates, they will be used only for internal executive branch purposes, the government says.

The states can challenge future agency regulations when they’re issued, as long as they cause some actual or imminent harm, the filing says.

‘Nothing’ to Justify Halt

Agencies have used estimates on the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions to prepare cost-benefit analyses since President George W. Bush, the DOJ argues. The states “offer nothing that would justify a court-ordered halt to these long-settled and salutary good-government procedures,” the government’s brief says.

The states’ claims are unripe, meritless, and should be dismissed, the federal government argues.

The Justice Department requested that the hearing be conducted remotely by video conference or teleconference. The DOJ attorneys who will present arguments, Stephen M. Pezzi and Cody T. Knapp, aren’t based in Louisiana, and current policy allows only “mission-critical travel,” the DOJ told the court.

Cain denied that request Sept. 9.

A similar lawsuit filed by Missouri, Arizona, and other states was tossed by a federal court in Missouri in August. Judge Audrey G. Fleissig of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri said the states’ claims were premature.

The states also lack standing because their alleged injuries all stemmed from “hypothetical future regulation,” Fleissig wrote.

Missouri and the other states are challenging the judge’s findings in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

The Louisiana Department of Justice and Consovoy McCarthy PLLC represent the states. Joseph St. John will argue on their behalf.

The case is Louisiana v. Biden, W.D. La., No. 2:21-cv-01074, arguments scheduled 12/7/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maya Earls in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at; Peggy Aulino at