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Gina McCarthy’s Social Network

Gina McCarthy's Social Network

EPA chief Gina McCarthy is turning down the volume of the Beltway dispute over the "social cost of carbon" as her agency writes climate change rules for power plants.


The social cost of carbon (SCC) is a metric of the economic toll of greenhouse-gas emissions from increased flood risks, human health effects, and various other harms. It helps regulators weigh the benefits of various rules that curb emissions.

McCarthy, speaking at an energy conference in Houston yesterday, suggested the SCC might not play a big role in creation of the power plant rules: "So far it hasn't been a driver in decision-making. I am not sure it will be here. But we'll see."

That low-key response stands in contrast to what's happening over a thousand miles away in Washington, D.C.


Last year's upward revision of the SCC by the Obama administration has drawn heavy pushback from fossil fuel industry groups. They say federal officials haven't justified the increase and fear the higher estimate will skew analyses in favor of tougher regulations on various industries.

Republicans have pounced too. Sen. David Vitter, ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has called the interagency process that increased the estimate a "black box."

But McCarthy's comments suggest that maybe whatever's inside it won't be as scary as critics fear.

Ben Geman

P.S. See the results of this week's National Journal Energy Poll below.



By Clare Foran (@ckmarie)

POLL FINDS PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR KEYSTONE. Democrats are evenly split, while the vast majority of Republicans support the pipeline.

  • Our take: Don't expect this to quiet debate on Capitol Hill. 

KERRY ISSUES DIPLOMATIC GUIDANCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE. The secretary of State has a message for diplomats: "We need to elevate the environment in everything we do."

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WORDS MATTER IN DEBATE ON PRESIDENT'S CLIMATE FUND. Prospects for establishment of a climate resilience fund proposed by President Obama will depend heavily on how it is described on Capitol Hill.

EPA CHIEF WON'T COMMIT TO REFINERY RULE. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy declined to say whether the agency would launch a rulemaking to set carbon-emissions standards for refineries.

EPA SEEKS TO REASSURE ON GRID RELIABILITY. Republicans and other EPA critics say that carbon-emissions rules could threaten the flow of electricity.

YOUR UTILITY BILL IS GOING UP. America's utilities must be upgraded, and it's the consumers, not the shareholders, who will get the bill. (Paywall)

GLOBAL WARMING LEFT OUT IN THE COLD. How the fossil-fuel boom killed the political will for congressional action on climate change.

STATE DEPARTMENT RIDES WAVE OF KEYSTONE COMMENTS. Friday is the last day for the public to weigh in during the department's review of the proposed oil sands pipeline.

CHINA WANTS HELP CURBING POLLUTION. China is asking wealthy nations to pay out $490 billion to help developing countries improve air quality and rein in emissions.


POLL: CLIMATE RESILIENCE FUND IS DOA. The president's proposal for a $1 billion Climate Resilience Fund in the 2015 budget is doomed in Congress, according to the latest National Journal Energy Poll. More than 68 percent said it is dead on arrival. Almost 18 percent said it won't be funded, but that Republicans will come up with an alternative. Only 7 percent said Congress would support Obama's plan wholesale, and another 7 percent said they would support it but cut the amount of money for the fund.


Next week's National Journal Energy & Environment Insiders discussion will ask: Will Congress give its stamp of approval to President Obama's proposed "Climate Resilience Fund"? Will lawmakers support the initiative? If it fails to pass, is there any possibility that certain provisions could be enacted on a piecemeal basis? If so, which measures are likely to draw the broadest bipartisan support?


CLIMATE TALK-A-THON. Members of the Senate Climate Action Task Force will take to the floor of the Senate to urge climate action throughout the night.

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