Wyoming Joins 10-State Lawsuit Over Greenhouse Gas Order

Wyoming is joining nine other states in a lawsuit aimed at stopping the Biden administration from considering the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions in making decisions on federal policies and rules.

Jim Angell

April 22, 20214 min read

Mark gordon
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Wyoming is joining nine other states in a lawsuit aimed at stopping the Biden administration from considering the “social cost” of greenhouse gas emissions in making decisions on federal policies and rules.

Gov. Mark Gordon on Thursday announced that Wyoming will join the other states in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Louisiana seeking to block implementation of one of President Joe Biden’s executive orders that would require federal agencies to consider the impact on climate change of any federally regulated activity that generates carbon dioxide, methane or nitrous oxide.

“This executive order improperly changes how decisions are made by applying a selective and highly biased feel-good rationale that has the potential to significantly harm industries critical to the nation’s and my state’s livelihood,” Gordon said. “Arbitrarily justifying any decision to fit political circumstances, including decisions that could be devastating to Wyoming’s energy sector, is not only bad policy, but is unwise.”

The lawsuit challenges one of the executive orders issued by Biden in his first days as president creating a working group to determine the “social cost” of carbon, methane and nitrous oxide emissions. 

The “social cost” measurements are meant to be estimates of the monetary of damages caused by increases in the emissions of such greenhouse gases. The values would be established by a working group made up of officials including the secretaries of Interior, Treasury, Agriculture, Transportation and Health and Human Services.

Those values would be taken into account when federal agencies make decisions on policies and rules in areas such as energy development.

“It is essential that agencies capture the full costs of greenhouse gas emissions as accurately as possible, including taking global damages into account,” the executive order said. “An accurate social cost is essential for agencies to accurately determine the social benefits of reducing greenhouse emissions when conducting cost-benefit analysis of regulatory and other actions.”

But the lawsuit, filed by Louisiana Solicitor General Elizabeth Murrill, said the executive decision will have an impact on almost every aspect of American life because all three of the gases are very common.“

Because those gases are ubiquitous, the … estimates are potentially relevant to the cost-benefit analysis for every federal rule-making and a host of ‘other relevant agency actions’ … covering topics as diverse as vending machines, dishwashers, dehumidifiers, microwave ovens, residential water heaters … and battery chargers, just to name a few,” the lawsuit said. “In other words, federal agencies must now use the (social cost of greenhouse gases) estimates to calculate regulatory costs and benefits for virtually everything that states and their citizens encounter every day.”

The executive order results to the most expansive federal regulatory initiative in history, the lawsuit said.

“In short (the order) will remake our federalism balance of power, American life and the American economy by directing all federal agencies to employ in all their ‘decision-making,’ including rule-making, a numeric value for the costs of greenhouse grass emissions that will ensure the most pervasive regulation in American history,” it said. The lawsuit alleges that the order will hurt all 10 of the states involved in the lawsuit and that the order was improperly issued without sufficient public review or comment.

The lawsuit asks the court to rule that federal agencies cannot use the “social cost” estimates.

States involved in the lawsuit in addition to Wyoming and Louisiana are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, Texas and West Virginia.

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Jim Angell