OMB Seeks Public Comment On Social Cost of Carbon

By E. Lynn Grayson

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requests comments on the Technical Support Document entitled Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order 12866. The Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) is used to estimate the value to society of marginal reductions in carbon emissions. This Technical Support Document explains the derivation of the SCC estimates using three peer reviewed integrated assessment models and provides updated values of the SCC that reflect minor technical corrections to the estimates released in May of this year. OMB requests that comments be submitted electronically to OMB by January 27, 2014 through http://www.regulations.gov/.

The White House revised the social cost of carbon estimate on Nov. 1 to $37 per ton in 2007 dollars for the year 2015, down from the $38-per-ton figure announced earlier this year, based on updated modelling outlined in the technical document. OMB requested comment on all aspects of the document including the integrated assessment models used to develop the figure, how the distribution of estimates should be represented in regulatory impact analyses and the overall approach to developing the figure. OMB said the social cost of carbon estimate is based on the "best available scientific information on the impacts of climate change" in the notice.

The SCC has been the subject of much debate including OMB's proposed increase earlier this year from the 2010 figure of $24 per metric ton to $38 per metric ton. The increase was opposed by several leading industry and trade groups and this opposition is believed to be the cause, at least in part, for OMB's actions: 1) to propose a slight reduction to $37 per metric ton on November 1st; and, 2) to seek further public comment.

The SCC plays an important role in evaluating the potential climate change burden of federal regulations. The SCC will have a significant impact on future federal rulemakings and needs to be fully vetted in an open and transparent process.

    E. Lynn Grayson, Partner, Jenner & Block

Read more at Corporate Environmental Lawyer Blog by Jenner & Block LLP.

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