By William Patrick, The Center Square

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is asking a federal court in Lafayette to halt a Biden administration plan to apply climate change “social cost” damages when regulating certain industries.

President Joe Biden issued an executive order shortly after taking office that resurrected an Obama administration initiative aimed at determining dollar-amounts for social damages stemming from carbon emissions.

Landry said they are “the most important numbers you never hear of.”

“We are hoping to explain to the judge why he needs to stop the executive order. What we’re hoping for is a nationwide injunction,” Landry said outside the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.

Lawyers from the attorney general’s office and the U.S. Department Justice made oral arguments before Judge James Cain, a President Donald Trump-appointed judge. Louisiana and nine other states had sued the administration in April, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Landry said the order was a backdoor “takeover” with wide-ranging effects on virtually every federal agency, including the Departments of Interior, Commerce, Energy, Agriculture, Transportation, Environmental Protection, Defense, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and Treasury.

“It hits home right here in Louisiana because the state has always been a leader in domestic energy,” Landry said.

The Department of Justice argued including greenhouse gases in federal planning has occurred for decades and federal agencies only are considering carbon emission climate change costs, not requiring them.

The executive order refers to the Bush administration as having first developed a metric to determine the emissions costs. The Obama administration expanded the program, and Trump disbanded it.

“One specific tool – called the ‘social cost of greenhouse gases’ – combines climate science and economics to help Federal agencies and the public understand the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” a White House statement said. “The metric is a range of estimates, in dollars, of the long-term damage done by one ton of greenhouse gas emissions.

“As this process proceeds, we are committed to engaging with the public and diverse stakeholders, seeking the advice of ethics experts, and working to ensure that the social cost of greenhouse gases consider climate risk, environmental justice, and intergenerational equity.”

According to the multistate lawsuit, the estimates for carbon emissions apply to carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

“Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are by-products of activities that make life in America what it is today, including energy production, agricultural production, industrial production, transportation, construction and waste disposal,” the lawsuit said.

Landry told reporters that when the lawsuit was filed in the spring, he speculated the administration could apply the order to the beef industry and raise prices on meat.

“Sure enough, only three or four months later, they did a study on the amount of methane that cattle release and they are going to attach a cost to that,” he said. “A cost is going to be added to each of these products.”


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