The administration has changed how it accounts for the benefits of carbon cutbacks to justify President Barack Obama's new climate change and energy program, according to a Wall Street Journal editorial
"In late May the administration slipped this mickey into a new rule about efficiency standards for microwaves, significantly raising what it calls the 'social cost of carbon," the Journal says.
"Team Obama made no public notice and invited no comment on this change that will further tilt rule-making against products and industries that use carbon energy." The administration is "simply redefining the economic and social 'benefits' of reducing carbon," the editorial says.
In 2010, an interagency working group decided that each metric ton of carbon eliminated by regulation would suddenly count for $21 in social benefits.
"This figure was derived by guesses about how more carbon in the atmosphere may harm everything from agricultural productivity to human health to flood risks," the editorial states. "The government's previous official estimate? Zero dollars."
Now, the administration has raised the benefit estimate to $36 a ton as part of the microwave rule.
The Department of Energy said the update stems from new assumptions based on "the best available science." But according to the Journal, that "means whatever science the feds decide to favor. The practical effect is to further inflate the supposed benefit of new rules, thereby offsetting the enormous economic costs."
A "regulatory onslaught" is coming against carbon energy and electricity production, the editorial continues. "The social-cost gambit will allow the administration to claim an enormous economic benefit for any greenhouse gas regulation that reduces carbon — such as new standards on existing coal plants . . . oil refineries, or lawn mowers."
The result, the Journal argues, will be hidden job losses and higher energy prices caused by the new rules. The changes will allow the government to destroy any fossil-fuel industry it pleases, the editorial charges.
"All of this is profoundly undemocratic. Congress has never legislated that there are social costs to carbon emissions, much less how to measure them. . . . He [Obama] is now trying to impose [his agenda] by regulation, and to do so he's rigging the rule-making," the Journal concludes.
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