Team Obama Jumps Into ‘Social Cost of Carbon’ Fray

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The smoke stacks at American Electric Power's (AEP) Mountaineer coal power plant in New Haven, West Virginia, October 30, 2009. In cooperation with AEP, the French company Alstom unveiled the world's largest carbon capture facility at a coal plant, so called 'clean coal,' which will store around 100,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide a year 2,1 kilometers (7,200 feet) underground.
National Journal
Ben Geman
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Ben Geman
Dec. 11, 2013, 1:11 p.m.

Or­gan­iz­ing for Ac­tion, the ad­vocacy group born from Pres­id­ent Obama’s reelec­tion cam­paign, is leap­ing in­to a grow­ing battle over the way reg­u­lat­ors tally the eco­nom­ic harm from cli­mate change.

The group is gath­er­ing on­line sig­na­tures for de­liv­ery to the White House Of­fice of Man­age­ment and Budget back­ing re­vi­sions to the met­ric known as the “so­cial cost of car­bon.”

“New data from the White House Of­fice of Man­age­ment and Budget shows the dan­ger­ous im­pacts of car­bon pol­lu­tion like nev­er be­fore — that’s no sur­prise to 97 per­cent of cli­mate sci­ent­ists who know that cli­mate change is real and man­made. But cli­mate-change den­iers are try­ing to bury this re­port’s find­ings,” the group’s pe­ti­tion reads. “It’s time to face the facts. Stand up to tell the OMB you sup­port an hon­est, sci­entif­ic as­sess­ment of the so­cial cost of car­bon.”

The pe­ti­tion is the latest sign that dis­putes over the once-ob­scure met­ric, which reg­u­lat­ors use to help cal­cu­late the be­ne­fits of rules that curb emis­sions, are grow­ing.

Re­pub­lic­ans and fossil-fuel in­dustry groups say the in­creased fed­er­al es­tim­ate of car­bon pol­lu­tion’s toll, quietly re­leased in May, was de­veloped without enough trans­par­ency or out­side re­view.

The OMB tweaked the met­ric again in Novem­ber and agreed to open it up for pub­lic com­ment.

The GOP-led House passed le­gis­la­tion earli­er this year that would pre­vent the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency from us­ing the met­ric in en­ergy-re­lated rule-mak­ings. A grow­ing num­ber of com­pan­ies and groups — such as coal gi­ant Pe­abody En­ergy and the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce — have also be­gun lob­by­ing on the top­ic.

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