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Appeals Court Reinstates Biden Climate Policy, Opening Door For More Regulation

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Thomas Catenacci Energy & Environment Reporter
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A federal appeals panel nixed a lower court ruling late Wednesday, reinstating a key White House climate policy implemented shortly after President Joe Biden took office.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the case’s plaintiffs, a group of 10 Republican states, lacked standing to challenge the policy, according to the decision published Wednesday evening. Biden implemented the policy — which determined there was a “social cost” of continued carbon, nitrous oxide and methane emissions — via executive action days after he was sworn in 14 months ago.

“Social cost” refers to the estimated dollar value incurred by the U.S. for every additional metric ton of carbon emitted into the environment, according to the Government Accountability Office. The Republican states, led by Louisiana, argued in their April 2021 challenge that interim estimates factoring in such social costs would lead to burdensome regulations moving forward.

But the appeals court ruled that the states aren’t challenging “any specific regulation or other agency action.” Rather, they were arguing against the potential effects of Biden’s policy. (RELATED: Biden Administration Quietly Delays, Stops Oil And Gas Leasing After Legal Defeat)

Workers place pipe into the ground on an oil drilling rig set up in the Permian Basin oil field on March 12 in Midland, Texas. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Workers place pipe into the ground on an oil drilling rig set up in the Permian Basin oil field on March 12 in Midland, Texas. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“The Government Defendants are likely to succeed on the merits because the Plaintiff States lack standing,” the panel wrote on Wednesday. “The Plaintiff States’ claimed injury is ‘increased regulatory burdens’ that may result from the consideration of SC-GHG, and the Interim Estimates specifically.”

“This injury, however, hardly meets the standards for Article III standing because it is, at this point, merely hypothetical,” the decision said.

In February, Judge James Cain, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana came to the opposite conclusion, ruling that the policy did cause significant harm to Americans.

“We strongly disagree with the 5th Circuit’s opinion that we lack standing in Biden’s latest attempt to inject the federal government into the everyday lives of Americans,” a spokesperson for Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an email. “We will petition for a rehearing en banc and will continue to stand up against this Administration’s vast overreach.”

The Department of the Interior confirmed that it is reviewing the appeal court’s decision in a statement to the DCNF.

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