In the wake of some incredibly demoralizing news that’s come out of the Supreme Court recently, it looks like they may have done some good: the Court will allow the Biden administration to use monetary estimates of greenhouse gas emissions for future policymaking.
The decision, issued Thursday, is the rejection of an emergency application from Louisiana and other Republican-led states that wished to block the use of what’s known as the “social cost of carbon,” the Washington Post reports. Resources for the Future explains that the social cost of carbon is a monetary estimate of the economic damages that would result per ton of carbon dioxide emitted. This metric is supposed to help quantify the impacts of climate change—specifically greenhouse gas emissions—for policymakers, but public officials in Louisiana and 10 other states feel that the calculated $51 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions will harm state revenue.
The Supreme Court’s wonderfully brief order reads: “The application to vacate stay presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied.” The New York Times notes that this brevity is typical when the Supreme Court is acting on an emergency application.
This order comes after Louisiana and other Republican-led states tried to push back on the use of the social cost of carbon. In February, Louisiana federal judge James D. Cain successfully challenged the Biden administration’s use of the social cost of carbon on behalf of Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming. This preliminary injunction, however, was unanimously reversed by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in March, and in April, Louisiana’s Attorney General Jeff Landry announced his plans to take the issue to the Supreme Court—and here we are.
This recent decision is a glimmer of hope for the U.S. response to the climate crisis, as this metric could be crucial to enacting future policies and laws to curb U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.