The Obama administration’s official estimate of the so-called “social cost of carbon” — i.e., a supposedly dispassionate accounting of the costs and externalities resulting from carbon dioxide emissions, used in assessing the impact of rules and regulations — has been the source of quite a bit of Congressional and industry contention over the past few months. …But I’m going to go ahead and say that that’s entirely the Obama administration’s own fault, seeing as how they tried to to sneak the heavily consequence-laden calculation into some random, obscure Department of Energy regulation about microwave ovens.
Unfortunately for them, the resulting rumpus drew a little too much attention to their underhanded maneuvering than they might have liked, and they’re finally making a few moves in broad, honest daylight, via Bloomberg:
The administration of President Barack Obama said it would revise and open for public comment its estimate of the social cost of carbon, used by agencies to calculate the benefits of regulations to address climate change.
The change follows complaints from industry lobbyists that the calculation, revised in May, exaggerated the potential costs of rising seas and droughts from climate change to justify regulations that would impose a high up-front cost for manufacturers and the energy sector. …
“We will continue to work to refine these estimates to ensure that agencies are appropriately measuring the social cost of carbon emissions as they evaluate the costs and benefits of rules,” Howard Shelanski, the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the White House, said in a blog post on Friday announcing the changes.
Shelanski said that outside parties were able to weigh-in on the analysis as part of specific regulations; they will now be given the opportunity to comment specifically on the administration’s carbon-cost estimate.
How very munificent of them. The initial calculation in 2010 (created via executive order) priced a single ton of carbon dioxide at $23.80, and in one fell, secretive swoop, they tried to raise it to a whopping $38/ton in order to make any potential benefits of proposed rules and regulations look a lot more valuable in cost-benefit analyses; did they really think nobody was going to notice, or what?