The Volokh Conspiracy

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Climate Change

Supreme Court Turns Away Red State Effort to Block Social Cost of Carbon

Without opinion the justices rejected Louisiana's application to vacate a lower court stay.


The effort by Louisiana and other states to prevent federal agencies from relying upon the Biden Administration's Social Cost of Carbon estimates has run aground in the Supreme Court. Today, without opinion, the justices denied the states' application to vacate a lower court stay. The Court's denial was not a surprise.

Louisiana's lawsuit had met with some initial success. In February, a federal district court in the Bayou State enjoined all federal agencies from relying upon the Social Cost of Carbon estimate. As I explained at the time, the district court's opinion made an absolute hash out of the relevant administrative law principles. Accordingly (and unsurprisingly) the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit swiftly stayed the injunction. Louisiana then sought en banc review, without success, leading to their petition with the Supreme Court.

As I have noted in my prior posts, reasonable people may differ on the methodology used by the Biden Administration to calculate a Social Cost of Carbon, as well as on the extent to which incorporating such considerations into federal agency analyses and decision-making does much to mitigate the risks posted by climate change. The theory of the suit, however, was something else, and the initial district court order was wrong on multiple levels, merely as a matter of administrative law. Thus it is no surprise that not even a single judge on the Fifth Circuit or the Supreme Court was willing to note their opinion that the injunction should stand.