Overnight Energy & Environment — Justice blocks climate accounting mechanism


Welcome to the Friday evening on energy and the environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Today we look at a judge’s ruling against the Biden administration’s social greenhouse gas costs and the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest ruling on a controversial rule from the public records of the Biden administration. Trump era.

For The Hill, we are Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Write to us with advice: [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow us on twitter: @RachelFrazin and @BudrykZack.

Let’s go.

Judge bans Biden’s use of key climate metric

A federal court has temporarily blocked the Biden administration’s use of a key climate accounting metric — a move that could have major effects on climate change regulation.

Trump-appointed Louisiana Judge James Cain has issued a preliminary injunction against the use of “social costs of greenhouse gases” that were instituted during the Biden administration.

Last year, the Biden administration temporarily reverted to Obama-era figures to calculate the costs of these planet-warming gases, and it is expected to release its own findings soon.

Numbers from the Obama era gave much more weight to climate damage than numbers used under the Trump administration.

Ok, but what are the social costs of greenhouse gases? These “social costs” have been used to help quantify the climate benefits of regulation, or conversely, the climate costs of deregulation, in rulemaking by agencies. Higher greenhouse gas costs can be used to justify stricter regulations.

In Friday’s ruling, Cain barred agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Transportation and Department of the Interior from relying on the findings of an “interagency task force.” of the White House.

This group was tasked with calculating their own values, which may have given even more weight to climate damage, and they had decided to use the pre-Trump numbers in the meantime.

He argued that social cost “directly harms” states when used to value oil and gas lease sales because they receive revenue from those sales.

And now? Bethany Davis Noll, a New York University law professor, said the administration would still be able to release its next social cost value because she said the judge couldn’t rule on something that did not yet exist.

In the meantime, she said agencies are largely left to their own devices to estimate climate costs.

Read more about the decision here.

EPA to reassess controversial FOIA rule

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will review a controversial Trump-era rule governing requests for public records.

In response to a lawsuit filed by environmental and public accountability groups, the EPA will release a proposal revising the text of the rule, according to an agreement reached with the plaintiffs and filed Thursday.

One of the plaintiffs, the Washington Center for Responsibility and Ethics, says on his site that the settlement obtained the “primary relief” it sought.

The rule states that the proposed revision will be “determined by the EPA in its sole discretion.”

The controversial 2019 rule allowed the EPA administrator and other officials to withhold part of a record that would otherwise have been released under a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Freedom of Information Act requires the government to release documents when requested by foreigners. It is often used by journalists and activists to get more information about government operations.


The United States is joining an effort to combat plastic pollution.

A new joint statement from the White House and France said they are committed to “supporting the launch of negotiations at the upcoming 5th United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) on a global agreement to address the full life cycle of plastics and promote a circular economy”.

He said this agreement should include both “binding and non-binding commitments” and call for “ambitious” national action plans by countries.



  • The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a audience on environmental justice legislation
  • The Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a audience on “the transformation of brownfields into economic engines”
  • The House Committee on the Climate Crisis will hold a audience on the resilience and reliability of the network


  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will vote on two EPA nominees, then hold a audience on biofuels


  • The Senate Budget Committee will hold a audience titled “Warrior Met and Wall Street Greed: What Corporate Raiders are Doing to Workers and Consumers”
  • The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a audience on the science of climate adaptation at the US Geological Survey


That’s all for today, thanks for reading. Discover The Hill’s energy & environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you on Monday.


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