A dozen Republican-led states filed suit against the Biden administration on Monday over a January 20 executive order aimed at rolling back a number of Trump-era priorities on energy and climate.
The Republican attorneys general who signed on to the lawsuit argue that the order is an unconstitutional expansion of climate regulations that could cripple energy production and other sectors of the economy. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is leading the legal effort against the Biden administration.
“Manufacturing, agriculture, and energy production are essential to Missouri’s economy and employ thousands of hard-working Missourians across the state. Under President Biden’s executive order, which he didn’t have the authority to enact, these hard-working Missourians who have lived and worked this land for generations could be left in the dust,” Schmitt said in a statement. “From higher energy bills to lost jobs, this massive expansion of federal regulatory power has the potential to impact nearly every household in this state – that’s why today I’m leading a coalition of states to put a stop to this executive order and protect Missouri families.”
The executive order, one of the first issued of the Biden administration, contains directives impacting a wide variety of actions the Trump administration took on climate, energy, and federal land. The order directs the federal government to recalculate the “social cost of carbon,” a measurement used by regulators to calculate the impact of emissions. The metric was first used under the Obama administration and later revised down under the Trump administration.
The order mandates a review of cuts made to several national monuments made under the Trump administration. In 2017, former President Donald Trump issued an order cutting down two national monuments in Utah by millions of acres. In 2020, Trump also cut back the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.
Biden’s directive also temporarily bars oil development in the 1002 area oil preserve in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The area was opened for oil exploration and development under Trump and was backed by Alaska’s congressional delegation. Another major energy project, the Keystone XL pipeline, was also effectively killed by the order which revoked the pipeline’s permit to pass from Canada into the United States.
In a press release, the Missouri attorney general put special emphasis on the changes to the calculated “social cost of carbon.” The statement said that the interim figures proposed by the Biden administration, which would be used to decide whether a wide variety of projects get approval from the federal government to proceed, would be a massive burden to development.
“In practice, President Biden’s order directs federal agencies to use this enormous figure to justify an equally enormous expansion of federal regulatory power that will intrude into every aspect of Americans’ lives — from their cars, to their refrigerators and homes, to their grocery and electric bills,” the lawsuit states. “If the Executive Order stands, it will inflict hundreds of billions or trillions of dollars of damage to the U.S. economy for decades to come. It will destroy jobs, stifle energy production, strangle America’s energy independence, suppress agriculture, deter innovation, and impoverish working families.”
“The potential regulatory impact of such numbers is enormous,” it continues. “These numbers are high enough to justify massive increases in regulatory restrictions on agricultural practices, energy production, energy use, or any other economic activity that results in the emission of such gases. When agencies follow President Biden’s directive that the agencies ‘shall’ use these Interim Values in their rulemakings and other regulatory activities, the use of these numbers will inevitably result in more restrictive regulatory policies in innumerable areas.”
Missouri is joined in the lawsuit by the attorneys general of Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.