The cooling towers at the Stanton Energy Center in Orlando, Florida. (Photo via The Guardian)
A Trump-appointed federal judge has blocked the Biden administrationís efforts to put greater emphasis on potential damage from greenhouse gas emissions when creating rules for polluting industries.
The move by US district judge James Cain of the western district of Louisiana deals a blow to President Joe Bidenís bid to bring America more back in line with global efforts to fight the climate crisis.
It also shows the effect of Donald Trumpís judicial appointees, which were overwhelmingly conservative, and will have impact far beyond the former Republican presidentís single term in office.
Biden to sign major executive orders on climate change
Cain sided with Republican attorneys general from energy producing states who said the administrationís action to raise the cost estimate of carbon emissions threatened to cause energy costs to rise while decreasing state revenues from energy production.
He issued a preliminary injunction preventing federal agencies from using the social cost of carbon after discovering that the metricís application had raised regulatory costs for red states.
Red states led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) had tried to prevent the Biden administration from using an interim social cost of carbon value determined by an interagency working group.
"The Court agrees that the public interest and balance of equities weigh heavily in favor of granting a preliminary injunction," Cain wrote in his order.
Cainís injunction bars the Biden administration from using the higher cost estimate, which puts a dollar value on damages caused by every additional ton of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.
Cain found that the social cost of carbon presented a problem under a cooperative federalism regulatory model since it required states to employ the metric or else risk "serious consequences."
Trump had decreased the climate cost estimate to around $7 or less per ton of carbon dioxide emissions. However, Biden, on his first day in office, restored the figure to around $51 per ton.
Trumpís estimate included only damages felt in the US versus the global damages captured in higher estimates that were previously used under the Obama administration.
"Plaintiff States have sufficiently identified the kinds of harms to support injunctive relief," Cainís ruling stated. "Moreover, the Court finds that the Plaintiff States have made a clear showing of an injury-in-fact, and that such injury ‘cannot be undone through monetary remedies.í"
Biden brought the US back into the Paris climate accord in January, 2021, after Trump pulled the country out.
Trump had labeled climate change a hoax, defying widening international support for the Paris agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
He argued that the concept of global warming had been "created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive."