Missouri and a dozen other states must wait until an agency uses the Biden administration’s interim estimates on the costs of greenhouse gases before alleging those estimates caused them harm, a federal appeals court affirmed Friday.
The states failed to convince the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to revive their lawsuit challenging the estimates on the social costs of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Their case followed a similar challenge by Louisiana, Alabama, and eight others was dealt a setback when the US Supreme Court denied their bid to block use of the estimates.
The states here argued the interagency working group that created the estimates lacked legislative authority. They also said they were illegally denied the opportunity to comment on those interim estimates.
The federal government urged the panel to uphold a lower court’s decision dismissing the lawsuit. There was no evidence of an agency action that relied on the estimates and threatened to harm the states, the Justice Department argued, and the interim estimates will eventually be replaced.
The states failed to allege plausible injury that was traceable to the interim estimates, so federal courts lack subject matter jurisdiction, the Eighth Circuit said.
The economic injuries alleged by the states were only “concrete” if the court assumed that multiple agencies would issue regulations relying on the estimates in the future, that the agencies would disregard any objections to the methodology by which they were calculated, and that the regulations would then harm plaintiffs in a concrete and particularized way, the judges said.
Judges James B. Loken and Jane Kelly were joined by District of Minnesota Judge Kate M. Menendez, sitting by designation.
The other dispute over the estimates currently awaits a final decision from the Fifth Circuit.
The Justice Department represented the federal government. The Missouri Attorney General’s Office led the 13 states.
The case is Missouri v. Biden, 8th Cir., No. 21-3013, 10/21/22.
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