Study: The Trump EPA is vastly underestimating the cost of carbon dioxide pollution to society

Yale Climate Connections discusses how the Trump EPA is vastly underestimating the cost of carbon dioxide pollution to society, new research finds. A recent study estimates that the ‘social cost of carbon’ is 100 times greater than the agency’s estimate.

In December 2017, congressional Democrats asked the Government Accountability Office to examine the Trump EPA’s new method for calculating the social cost of carbon. The GAO published its report in June 2020.

GAO confirmed that the Trump EPA slashed the social cost of carbon by implementing two dubious choices recommended by House Republicans in early 2017. The first was to consider only domestic, rather than global, climate damage costs. The vast majority of experts, including the National Academy of Sciences, agree that approach is inappropriate.

The Trump EPA justified these two choices by citing a guidance document from the Office of Management and Budget called Circular A-4. But the GAO concluded that EPA had ignored inconvenient parts of that guidance, which states, “Where you choose to evaluate a regulation that is likely to have effects beyond the borders of the United States, these effects should be reported separately,” and “Special ethical considerations arise when comparing benefits and costs across generations … Future citizens who are affected by such choices cannot take part in making them, and today’s society must act with some consideration of their interest.”

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