ICYMI: Vitter Presses for Answers on EPA’s Involvement in Secretive Process for Social Cost of Carbon Estimates
November 6, 2013
During yesterday's Environment & Public Works Subcommittee on Oversight hearing, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) pressed Sarah Dunham, Director of the Office of Atmospheric Programs within the Office of Air and Radiation for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for substantial answers on the Agency's involvement in developing the Administration's updated Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) estimates. Ms. Dunham admitted that her office assisted the Interagency Working Group, providing technical analysis and modeling for developing the SCC estimates. As these estimates are used to justify the benefits of Agency rulemakings, Sen. Vitter wants to know who this anonymous group of people includes, what exact role they played in the broad interagency effort, and wants the EPA to be more transparent in how these estimates were developed.
"To anyone outside of the Administration, including me, this is like a black box. We've been asking a number of legitimate questions through at least two letters about that process [of developing updated social cost of carbon estimates] and the participants. And I've just gotten no information yet." - Sen. David Vitter
Last Friday, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at OMB issued updated values for the Social Cost of Carbon, and promised to provide a public comment period specifically on the estimates despite their already being used in Agency proposals.
This year, Vitter and EPW Republicans have questioned the EPA, the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) about the Administration's updated estimate for the social cost of carbon, which was developed in secret and used to justify costly and controversial rulemakings, as well as the overall lack of openness and transparency regarding this issue. Click here to read more.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) says something's missing in the revised White House estimate of economic damages from carbon emissions: proper names.
Vitter pressed a senior Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official Tuesday for names of participants in the interagency process to revise the "social cost of carbon," a metric of carbon pollution's toll.
"To anyone outside the administration including me, this is like a black box," Vitter, the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, told EPA's Sarah Dunham at a hearing Tuesday.
"We have been asking a number of legitimate questions through at least two letters about that process and about the participants, and I have just gotten no information yet," he told Dunham, head of EPA's Office of Atmospheric Programs.
Vitter and some other Republicans, as well as major business groups, say May's upward revision of the social cost of carbon, a metric used to weigh the benefits of carbon-cutting regulations, was not done transparently.
Dunham told Vitter she attended some meetings on the topic. She also told Vitter she would look into his request for specific names of others.
"I can certainly take your interest in getting that back to the agency," she said at the hearing, which was mostly about emissions of the greenhouse gas methane at oil-and-gas development sites.
The White House Office of Management and Budget on Friday afternoon announced new "technical corrections" to the social cost of carbon estimate.
The White House also pledged to launch a formal public comment process "in response to public and stakeholder interest."
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White House revisions to the social cost of carbon-a measure of carbon emissions'' economic toll-need to be accompanied by the names of the people who helped change them, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said Tuesday.
"To anyone outside the administration including me, this is like a black box," Vitter said, according to The Hill. During a hearing, he pressed Environmental Protection Agency official Sarah Durham for the names of staffers who took part in the interagency revision process. Durham pledged to look into it.
On Monday, the White House announced it was revising its assessment of the social cost of carbon and seeking additional public feedback.