E&E News: "How Pausing the Social Cost of Carbon Affected Regulation"

Fellow Brian Prest comments on the relationship between the social cost of carbon and federal oil and gas leasing.

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May 26, 2022

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Brian Prest, an economist at Resources for the Future, said the effect on U.S. oil and gas production of using the social cost of greenhouse gas figures is “an open question.”

“I suspect that most of the pressure on the administration to reduce the sales is more about campaign pledges than necessarily a particular calculation around emissions impacts,” he said.

“If the social cost of carbon is kind of pivotal in determining how many leases were affected, then sure, sort of tossing it might mean more leases on federal lands,” said Prest, who wrote a peer-reviewed paper on the subject.

Prest’s analysis found that fewer leases on federal lands would mean more leases on state or private lands in places like Texas and New Mexico, neither of which use social cost figures. So, the loss of using social cost figures in federal leasing decisions might increase oil and gas production on federal lands.

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