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Senators: Process for Review of Social Cost of Carbon Estimates is Insufficient
Demand that Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs provide robust, transparent, and thorough review of social cost of carbon
January 14, 2014

Today, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, along with U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.), pressed the Administration for a transparent process to review the social cost of carbon (SCC). In the letter to Howard Shelanski, Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the Senators request that OIRA take several key steps to ensure a transparent review process of the SCC estimates produced by the Interagency Working Group, which have been used by multiple federal agencies to justify costly new rules and regulations.

"President Obama's regulatory agenda, which circumvents Congress in order to unilaterally and aggressively regulate carbon dioxide through unelected federal agencies, only escalates the importance of the SCC's thorough review," wrote the Senators. "The regulatory uncertainty surrounding the SCC remains alarming, as highlighted by your office's recent revisions to the SCC based on newly found deficiencies in the models. Given the integral role of the estimates in existing, pending, and future regulations that could impose trillions of dollars in costs on our economy, it is imperative that the Administration address these concerns."

In June 2013, Vitter led seven Senators in a letter to the EPA, Department of Energy (DOE), and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), challenging the lack of transparency and openness in the development and revision process of the Administration's SCC estimates. In September 2013, the Senators followed up with Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator, regarding the Agency's involvement in the development and ultimate use of the SCC estimates in current and upcoming energy-related rules.

In November 2013, Vitter pressed Sarah Dunham, Director of the Office of Atmospheric Programs within the EPA Office of Air and Radiation, for substantial answers on the Agency's involvement in the SCC revision process. During questioning at an EPW Committee hearing, Ms. Dunham admitted on the record that her office assisted the Interagency Working Group, providing technical analysis and modeling for developing the SCC estimates. The next week, Vitter requested the names of the members of the anonymous Interagency Working Group and how their estimates are used to justify the benefits of Agency rulemaking. EPA has not yet responded.

Click here to read today's letter.

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