Inhofe Raises Concerns Over Novel Social Cost of Methane Estimates

WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, on Friday sent a letter to Gina McCarthy, administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), raising concerns over EPA’s application of the social cost of the methane (SCM) in the EPA’s proposed rule for methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.  This the first time EPA has applied the social cost of methane to monetize direct benefits of rulemaking.  The public comment period for the methane oil and gas rule ended Friday.

“The SCM estimate is based on the deeply flawed methodology underpinning the social cost of carbon. EPA endorsed the SCM for use in regulatory impact analyses (RIAs) without subjecting the estimate to the necessary level of peer review and public participation,” Inhofe said in the letter.

Inhofe continued in the letter, “The timing of the SCM’s application is seemingly driven by the international climate negotiations so the Obama Administration can cite regulatory actions for methane and tout outlandish benefit estimates for reducing methane conjured by the SCM.”



On June 11, seven Senate EPW members sent a letter to President Obama regarding plans for regulating methane from the oil and gas sector, and specifically asked whether a social cost of methane estimate would be used in the expected rule.  The senate EPW committee has yet to receive a response.  EPA released the proposed rule on August 18, and it was published in the Federal Register on September 18.  EPA requested comments on the rule as well as the social cost of methane estimates.

The social cost of methane is based on the same methodology as the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC). EPW Republicans have long expressed concerns over the SCC, which is currently under review by the National Academy of Sciences.  On July 21, Inhofe led seven other Senators in sending a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on the lack of transparency and accountability in developing and updating the SCC.  On March 9, Inhofe led eight other Senators in sending a letter to Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Howard Shelanski on the delayed response to public comments on the SCC estimates. 

To read the full letter, click here.