Biden administration halts new oil and gas projects in legal fight over climate costs

The Biden administration announced that it will be suspending or delaying a new federal oil and gas leasing after a court ruled against the process by which the social cost of climate change is calculated.

The administration announced the pause on Saturday night after the court blocked the method for calculating the social costs associated with greenhouse gases. 

Judge James Cain of the Western District of Louisiana, an appointee from Trump’s time in the White House, blocked the piece on February 11 over how social costs are calculated in relation to greenhouse gases, which are considered to be the primary driver of climate change.

The administration had looked to return to Obama-era calculation procedures, with plans to develop its own methods in the future. 

Cain blocked federal agencies in his ruling from considering findings from the White House Interagency Working Group, which had been assigned to create new metrics based on calculations from the Obama-era.

The ruling also stops the administration from considering the global impacts of greenhouse gas emissions, which was one of the major distinctions in why the Obama estimates were much higher than that of the Trump administration. 

In a legal filing from Saturday evening, the Justice Department requested that the court stay the injunction, citing that the likelihood that its appeal will succeed.

“From President Nixon on, every President has imposed some internal Executive Branch requirement for federal agencies to assess the costs and benefits of major government actions,” the filing notes.

“The injunction further calls into question the authority of the past three Administrations to provide standardized guidance to agencies on appropriate methods of estimating the social cost of greenhouse-gas emissions.” 




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