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.
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By Clare Foran (@ckmarie)
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