President Joe Biden is being sued by a coalition of 12 states, led by Missouri attorney general Eric Schmitt, over the Green New Deal. “This order would result in new regulations that would significantly burden Kansas agriculture, energy production and manufacturing,” Schmidt said, “No president has authority to impose this massive job-killing cost on our economy by executive order.” The Green New Deal inspired the decision to calculate the costs of greenhouse gasses. In the 46 page complaint the states called calculating the costs of greenhouse gasses “inherently speculative, policy-laden, and an indeterminate task.” The states want a judge to declare section five of Biden’s executive order unconstitutional and block the working group Biden created from implementing rules.
Why are 12 States suing Biden?
On his first day in the White House, Biden signed Executive Order 13990. In addition to stopping new oil and gas leases on public lands and revoking permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, which cost many people their jobs, Biden told federal agencies to calculate the “social cost” of greenhouse gas pollution by estimating “monetized damages” to inform future federal regulations. This includes changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, property damage from flood risk and the value of ecosystem services. “It is essential that agencies capture the full costs of greenhouse gas emissions as accurately as possible, including taking global damages into account,” Biden says in his order. “An accurate social cost is essential for agencies to accurately determine the social benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions when conducting cost-benefit analyses of regulatory and other actions.” The breakdown of the social costs, according to a working group created by Biden’s administration, shows $269 billion for carbon dioxide, $990 billion for methane, and $8.24 trillion for nitrous oxide totaling approximately $9.5 trillion. The group published interim social costs on Feb 26, but final rules will not go into effect until June 1, 2022. USA Today says Biden campaigned on being the “most aggressive” president on climate change, which he called “an existential threat.” His goal is to decarbonize the U.S. power sector by 2035 on the way to reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Claiming that Biden’s administration cannot set these values, the lawsuit from the 12 states claims that the action violates the separation of powers, “the most fundamental bulwark of liberty.”
The 12 States Suing
State attorney generals from Missouri, Arkansas, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah have banded together challenging Biden’s authority to implement the social cost criteria into regulatory actions. The lawsuit says, “Setting the ‘social cost’ of greenhouse gases is an inherently speculative, policy-laden, and indeterminate task, which involves attempting to predict such unknowable contingencies as future human migrations, international conflicts, and global catastrophes for hundreds of years into the future.” The complaint goes on to say “If the Executive Order stands, it will inflict hundreds of billions or trillions of dollars of damage to the U.S. economy for decades to come, It will destroy jobs, stifle energy production, strangle America’s energy independence, suppress agriculture, deter innovation, and impoverish working families. It undermines the sovereignty of the States and tears at the fabric of liberty.” The lawsuit also talks about how “manure and flatulence from livestock” produces roughly one-third of methane emissions in the United States. This would mean social costs of producing meat, milk and eggs would add up to $268 billion annually. “Under President Biden’s executive order, which he didn’t have the authority to enact…hard-working Missourians who have lived and worked this land for generations could be left in the dust,” Schmitt said in a statement.
This is not the first time the states have come together in a lawsuit against a president over climate change. The Obama administration was sued for implementing its Clean Power Plan aimed at slashing carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the challenge in 2015 and the program never actually came to action. Then in 2019, the Trump administration was sued for its attempt to weaken the previous effort to put national limits on carbon emissions from power plants. So far the Justice Department has not commented on the current suit according to multiple news outlets.
Written by: Erinn Malloy