Washington DC — In response to a change in the social cost of carbon included in a little-noticed federal rule on microwave ovens, U.S. Representatives Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Nick Rahall (D-WV) introduced H.R. 2593, the Cost-Benefit and Regulatory Transparency Enhancement Act.  The bipartisan legislation requires that any cost-benefit analysis and key methods used to justify regulations must be held for at least 60-days pending public review and comment. 

By increasing the social cost of carbon to $38 a metric ton, government actions that lead to cuts in emissions are considered more valuable, while actions supporting the completion of the Keystone Pipeline and other energy production, for instance, are deemed more costly.

“The social cost of carbon has significant implications on rule making and this calculation could be revised and even manipulated to make cuts in emissions appear more or less valuable in any cost-benefit analysis,” said Representative Hunter.  “Tucking the latest social cost of carbon calculation into an unnoticed rule on microwave ovens raises questions about intent, given that the calculation could be used to justify specific actions supported by the Administration.

“There should be an opportunity for public review and comment, so that industry and stakeholders can weigh in and provide feedback on cost-benefit analyses and key methods, including the social cost of carbon.  Evidently, this is a process that needs to be more open and transparent, and this legislation will guarantee adequate time and opportunity for congressional and public review.”

A Congressional Research Service analysis of the Cost-Benefit and Regulatory Transparency Enhancement Act is available here.