On behalf of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Marlo Lewis submitted this comment in support of the Landmark Legal Foundation’s petition for reconsideration of the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) final rule establishing Energy Conservation Standards for Standby Mode and Off Modefor Microwave Ovens.
The comment letter develops the following points:
- Inserting the administration’s revised social cost of carbon (SCC) estimates into the final microwave rule without subjecting them to public notice and comment during the rulemaking was improper.
- SCC analysis all-too-easily becomes a pretext or excuse for expanding regulatory activism and increasing regulatory stringency. Indeed, that is its primary purpose.
- The concept of carbon’s social cost is highly subjective, deriving from assumptions about inherently speculative issues such as climate sensitivity, how global warming will affectweather patterns, how climate changes will affect economic activity, and how adaptive capabilities will develop as climate changes. Uncertainties multiply through each stageof the analysis, enabling modelers to get pretty much whatever results they want.
- Contrary to the popular “worse than we thought” mantra, the state of the climate is better than we’ve been told. Catastrophic scenarios are implausible; climate models predict more warming than is actually observed; the science on the key variable – climate sensitivity – is increasingly unsettled; and it is dauntingly difficult to discern carbon’s social cost in either the behavior of extreme weather or in properly-adjusted weather-related damages.
- Flouting OMB best practices, the Inter-Agency Working Group inflated its SCC estimates by excluding calculations based on a 7% discount rate, and by estimating only the global SCC rather than the domestic SCC. Even if the Inter-Agency Working Group got the science and technical economics exactlyright, its SCC analysis would still be one-sided (partisan), because it ignores the social cost of carbon mitigation.
- For all the foregoing reasons, DOE should re-propose the rule and invite specificcomment on the revised SCC estimates and, more broadly, the appropriateness of using SCC estimates in regulatory development and benefit assessment.