Charting the social cost of carbon

A federal judge last month threw out a lawsuit filed by Republican state attorneys general against the Biden administration. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt led officials from 13 states in suing to block the administration from considering the “social cost of carbon” in federal regulations.

Federal agencies use the social cost of carbon to estimate the financial impact of regulations related to carbon emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, measuring “the long-term damage done by a ton of carbon dioxide … emissions in a given year.”

The chart below represents estimates used in federal analyses for the cost of carbon in certain years.

A federal working group has established an interim figure for the social cost of carbon at $51 per ton, the Scientific American reports. Under President Donald Trump, it was as low as $1.

Schmitt argued in his lawsuit that the figure could result in “trillions of dollars in regulatory costs on the American economy every year.”


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