Attorney General Cameron Joins 10-State Lawsuit Against President Biden’s Social Cost of Carbon Executive Order

FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 22, 2021) – Attorney General Daniel Cameron today joined a coalition of 10 state attorneys general in suing to prevent the Biden Administration from carrying out an act of executive overreach through the implementation of his “social cost of carbon” Executive Order.  The coalition argues that the Executive Order will kill thousands of jobs throughout the country and impose more regulatory burdens and harm on the American people.

“President Biden’s ‘social cost of carbon’ Executive Order targets industries like coal and manufacturing, which are essential to Kentucky’s economy and future economic growth,” said Attorney General Cameron.  “These industries create job opportunities for hard-working Kentuckians and provide tax revenue and growth opportunities.  We will not stand by while this administration pushes climate policies that are out of step with the needs of our communities.”

The “social cost of carbon” Executive Order requires federal agencies to quantify the “global damage” of releasing carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, using unrealistic economic assumptions imposed on the agencies by the Biden Administration. These emissions are among the most common and prevalent by-products of human economic activity and result from nearly every aspect of human life. For instance, carbon dioxide emits from burning carbon-based materials, like fossil fuel and firewood, but also results from chemical reactions like the manufacturing of cement. Agricultural activities, like soil and waste management, result in roughly 75 percent of our nitrous oxide emissions, while 27 percent of methane emissions stem from livestock excretions. Methane also emits from using petroleum and natural gas.

Attorney General Cameron argues in the lawsuit that the Biden Executive Order will harm Kentucky jobs and economic development.  In 2020, Kentucky mined over 23 million tons of coal, representing an estimated 36 percent of total U.S. coal production.  The Commonwealth is also the number one producer in cars, light trucks, and SUVs per capita and is a top producer of stainless steel.

In his Executive Order, President Biden established a “working group” made up of federal appointees who are required to establish a damages value based upon global environmental damages from climate changes. These values are referred to as the “social cost of carbon,” the “social cost of methane” and the “social cost of nitrous oxide.” The President further required federal agencies to immediately begin applying these numbers in regulatory actions and, vaguely, “other” decision-making.

These values will result in the most expansive and expensive federal regulatory initiative in history and will have wide-ranging impacts on decisions made by the federal government. The coalition argues that the President’s actions improperly and illegally change the way federal decision-making is conducted, including changing the cost-benefit analysis for nearly every significant agency action. This means federal agencies could use these estimates to arbitrarily assign massive costs or massive benefits, whichever they choose, to every regulatory action, to environmental impact studies, to establish mitigation costs, and more.

This executive overreach touches nearly every part of American life: the generators powering our homes, the dishwashers cleaning our tableware, the lawnmowers cutting our grass, the firewood keeping us warm, the livestock and produce feeding our families, and every breath we exhale. Through this Executive Order, the Biden Administration is not only arbitrarily and improperly taxing American productivity and everyday life in the community, but it is also creating a scheme that can justify virtually any decision.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.  Attorney General Cameron joined the Louisiana-led lawsuit alongside attorneys general from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

View a copy of the complaint here.