Little-Noticed Rule Change May Be Big Statement of Obama's Climate Agenda

The DoE recently updated its energy-efficiency standards for microwaves. Big deal, right? Actually, observes Brad Plumer, by upping the 'social cost of carbon' used to calculate the benefits of the rule, the government has made a big shift.

"Last week, the Department of Energy announced a little-noticed update to its energy-efficiency standards for microwaves, requiring newer models to use less power in stand-by mode," reports Plumer. "But there was a surprise buried in the fine print: The agency is now using a higher figure for the 'social cost of carbon' in calculating the benefits of the rule. Instead of assuming that the harm caused by carbon-dioxide emissions comes to $22 per ton in 2013, regulators are now using a figure [PDF] of about $36 per ton."

"That’s a big shift — the Obama administration is effectively saying that climate change will be more damaging than previously estimated, in part because of the impacts of future sea-level rise," Plumer explains. "And that means U.S. government agencies could, in theory, justify even stricter regulations to curb greenhouse-gas emissions."

"This might sound like nitpicking. But seeing as how much of the Obama administration’s climate-change agenda will likely be carried out through the Environmental Protection Agency, this small tweak could make a big difference in the years ahead."

Full Story: An obscure new rule on microwaves can tell us a lot about Obama’s climate policies


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