© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Smoke rises from a chimney at the Sugar Cane Growers cooperative in Belle Glade, Florida January 6, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo
(Reuters) -A federal appeals court on Wednesday allowed the Biden administration to continue, at least temporarily, using Obama-era values for calculating climate change costs in government decisions.
The stay granted by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a lawsuit by 10 Republican-led states is a victory for President Joe Biden’s efforts to factor the risks of global warming into federal decision-making.
The court argued that the states’ claim of possible harm from increased regulation was “merely hypothetical.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The U.S. Interior Department said it was reviewing the decision.
The government has appealed a preliminary injunction imposed in February by a U.S. District Court judge in Louisiana which had temporarily blocked it from using a value of about $50 per ton as the “social cost of greenhouse gases.”
The White House raised the value from about $10 or less per ton under the Trump administration, shortly after Biden took office last year. The states sued, saying the new administration broke the law by changing the value without giving the public the opportunity to weigh in.
The “social cost of greenhouse gases” estimate is used in rule-making processes and permitting decisions to estimate economic damages associated with a rise in greenhouse gas emissions.
In response to the February ruling, the Interior Department said last month it would delay oil and gas lease sales on federal lands while it evaluated how to factor climate change risks into those auctions without the tool.
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