Friday, August 16, 2013

Comments Wanted On Microwave Rule & Social Cost Of Carbon

Aug 16: The Department of Energy (DOE) has received a Petition for Reconsideration and Request for Comments [78 FR 49975-49978] involving the controversial issue of the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC). The notice from DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy indicates that the Agency has received a petition from the Landmark Legal Foundation (LLF), requesting that DOE reconsider its final rule of Energy Conservation Standards for Standby Mode and Off Mode for Microwave Ovens, published on June 17, 2013 (i.e. Microwave Final Rule). Comments on the petition must be received by DOE not later than September 16, 2013.

    Specifically, LLF requests that DOE reconsider the Rule because the final rule used a different Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) than the figure used in the supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNOPR). LLF indicates that "The final rule uses a new valuation for SCC that is different from -- and dramatically higher than -- that used in the proposed rule during the notice and comment period." DOE is requesting comments on whether to undertake the reconsideration suggested in the petition.

    DOE explains that In developing the Microwave Rule, it issued a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNOPR) on February 14, 2012 (77 FR 8555). In this SNOPR, as part of its economic analysis of the proposed rule, DOE sought to monetize the cost savings associated with the reduced carbon missions that would result from the expected energy savings of the proposed rule. To do this, DOE used "the most recent values [of SCC] identified by the interagency process," which, at the time, was the SCC calculation developed by the "Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Carbon 2010." The 2010 figure was developed through an interagency process in accordance with Executive Order 12866.
    In May 2013, subsequent to the SNOPR but prior to DOE's issuance of the final Microwave Rule, the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Carbon released revised SCC values. (Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order 12866, Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Carbon, United States Government, 2013) As these were "the most recent (2013) SCC values from the interagency group," DOE included these revised SCC values in the Rule. (78 FR 36316).
    Landmark petitions DOE to reconsider the Rule on the grounds that this change in the values used in estimating the economic benefits of the Rule should have been subject to a prior opportunity for public comment because the 2013 SCC values were not the "logical outgrowth" of the 2010 SCC values. Further, Landmark asserts that without reconsideration of the Rule, DOE might now rely on its prior use of the 2013 SCC values in the Rule when it endeavors to enact new energy conservation standards in the future.
    Specifically, in its petition, Landmark indicates, "Landmark objects to the Department's (and unnamed other agencies) decision to utilize an "Interagency Update" to justify increasing the "social cost" of carbon dioxide without any opportunity for public comment. Finalizing such a far reaching decision without notice and public comment violates the Administrative Procedure Act's (APA) and Executive Order 13563's tenets of transparency, objectivity and fairness in promulgating and finalizing regulations. Landmark submits this document as a Petition for Reconsideration. However, the egregious violations of the APA as documented in this Petition demand rescission of the Rule. Landmark respectfully requests the DOE halt implementation and begin the regulatory process anew. At a minimum, the DOE's action must be reconsidered and presented to the public for proper consideration and comment. . ."
    Landmark notes further that, "The new [SCC] value is important because it serves as a key data factor in all cost-benefit analyses performed involving carbon dioxide. Despite its curious and surreptitious integration into a rule pertaining to microwave ovens, this new estimate appears to apply to all federal agencies engaging in cost-benefit analyses involving carbon dioxide emissions. . . For example, in the proposed rule, the Social Cost of Carbon, under one discount rate is estimated to be $23.80 dollars per metric ton by 2015. 77 FR 8555. That number rises to $38 dollars per metric ton under the new estimates provided in the final rule. 78 FR 36351. . . 
    "Landmark respectfully requests DOE immediately halt implementation and rescind the Rule. In the alternative, Landmark requests DOE adhere to the mandates of the APA, and subject the changes documented in this Petition to a proper notice and comment."
    Access the FR announcement which includes the complete LLF petition, background, and commenting procedures (click here). Access EPA's SCC website for more information (click here). [#Energy/Efficiency, #Climate]

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