Report: Obama's "Social Cost of Carbon" figures are likely backward

This is a story which dates back a while, but its impact is still being felt today. As you may recall, when President Obama was pushing for new “clean air” standards through the offices of the EPA, he was touting the “Social Cost of Carbon” (SCC) which allegedly calculated how much money carbon emissions were costing everyone. This magical sounding calculation has been adjusted several times over the past few years, but at one point the White House was claiming that new emission standards would wind up saving us all an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion per year in 2030.

All of this was used as a smokescreen to somehow justify the enormous costs being imposed on the energy industry through this scheme which are then passed on to consumers. But there’s a new report coming out which has finally dug into the numbers and found that not only are carbon emissions likely not costing us that much money… they may in fact be reducing costs nationally. The Daily Caller has the details.

A soon-to-be-published paper challenges the Obama administration’s so-called “social cost of carbon” estimate, which puts a monetary value on the supposed future damages from global warming.

But the new study’s authors not only say the administration’s “social cost of carbon” (SCC) is overblown, they also argue it might actually be negative based on observed temperature increases, not just climate models. That means there’s actually benefits to emitting carbon dioxide.

“The resulting Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) estimates are much smaller than those from models based on simulated parameters,” wrote Ross McKitrick, an economist at the University of Guelph, along with David Kreutzer and Kevin Dayaratna, both economists at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

From the beginning, these figures sounded like some sort of science fiction experiment aimed at justifying additional government regulatory burdens. As the Daily Caller notes, back in 2013 Robert Murphy (from the Institute for Energy Research) declared there was “little ‘science’ behind the whopping numbers.” In fact, most of it appeared to be wishful thinking which took the highest predicted temperature increases attributed to carbon emissions (which have been reduced several times since then) and used that as a springboard to imagine various impacts on the economy.

Trying to quantify any of this in a truly scientific fashion was essentially a fool’s errand to begin with, but it lends the patina of “science” to Climate Justice regulatory schemes. The new clean air requirements for power plants (which are now being challenged in court) are serving as the equivalent of a carbon tax, which is what the Democrats have been aiming for all along. Unfortunately for them, the scientific community hasn’t completely sold out for political gain and some of the numbers simply can’t be supported.

These trends in the analysis of carbon emissions demonstrate a striking parallel to the same things we’ve been learning about methane in the atmosphere. No sooner had the EPA announced new methane regulations than the government’s own National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration concluded that the scant methane increases we’ve seen recently are primarily natural in origin and not man made.

Just one day after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it will regulate methane emissions from existing sources of oil and natural gas in order to “combat climate change,” scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have released a new study finding that oil and natural gas producers are not to blame for a global increase in methane emissions. In fact, according to the researchers, the increased emissions are instead coming from wetlands and agriculture.

The lead author of the study, Hinrich Schaefer, an atmospheric scientist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in Wellington, New Zealand, put it this way to Climatewire:

“Currently increasing methane levels are caused not by fossil fuel production but rather by wetlands or, more likely, agriculture.”

These Social Cost of Carbon figures are junk science meant to buttress new regulations and de facto taxes on energy. They bear little resemblance to actual data and wind up costing consumers far more than the energy industry which the Democrats are trying to shut down.