SCOTUS gives Biden climate change victory

The justice of the U.S. Supreme Court just gave President Joe Biden a legal victory.

Reuters reports that the court has rejected an attempt by Republican-led states to stop Biden from raising the “social costs” of greenhouse gases. 

What is it?

The referred-to “social costs” is an accounting metric that the Biden administration can use when drafting new regulations. The Hill explains this metric in more detail.

“The tool in question, known as the ‘social costs’ of greenhouse gases, is a set of values that help the government calculate the climate costs or benefits of its actions,” the outlet reports.

It continues: “For example, the values may be used to help the government quantify the benefits of a regulation that prevents planet-warming carbon dioxide from being released into the air or the additional damage that could be caused by approving a project that emits a lot of it.”

The Hill, later in the article, highlights a key idea: “A higher cost of these gases may be used to justify taking more stringent climate actions, while a lower cost could justify actions that are less stringent.”

The lawsuit

This “social costs” metric is nothing new. It has been used by the past several administrations. But, the administration of former President Donald Trump did some different: it lowered the metric.

Now, Biden’s administration is attempting to raise it back up, which, using that key idea from The Hill’s article, would “justify taking more stringent climate actions.”

In response, several Republican-led states brought a lawsuit against the Biden administration looking to prevent it from increasing the metric. Their basic argument was that Biden is harming their states by doing so by taking away from them the revenue that they would expect to receive from the leasing of oil and gas on their lands.

Initially, the Republicans achieved a partial victory, with a judge stopping the Biden administration from putting its increased social costs metric into effect. But, that decision was overturned, which is what brought the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.


The Supreme Court justices this week, in a one-sentence order, ruled that the Republican states’ request to block the Biden administration from putting its social costs metric into effect “is denied.” No further explanation was provided.

So, Biden now has the go-ahead to raise the social costs metric, which, no doubt, he will use to, in the words of The Hill, “justify taking more stringent climate actions.”

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