Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Allows Federal Government to Continue Using Best Available Science about the Costs of Climate Damage

March 16, 2022
Sharyn Stein, 202-905-5718,

(March 16, 2022) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit today lifted a lower court’s unprecedented restrictions on the federal government’s use of the most up-to-date information about the serious harms of climate pollution in its decision-making. The Court of Appeals found the Biden administration is likely to prevail on the merits when the case is fully heard.

“The Fifth Circuit’s decision is welcome news for the millions of Americans who are harmed by climate pollution. It means policy makers can continue using the best available information to protect people from the dangers caused by climate change, to strengthen our nation’s energy security, and to help develop more well-paying American jobs,” said Vickie Patton, General Counsel for Environmental Defense Fund. “The lower court’s ruling was profoundly flawed, contrary to law, and would have put people’s lives and health at risk. It should be overturned entirely when the case is heard on the merits.”

A federal district court judge in Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction in February restricting the Biden administration from using the measure known as the “social cost of carbon.” That measure reflects the best available scientific and economic analysis, based on extensive peer-reviewed information, to determine the monetary costs imposed by climate change. The government uses it to evaluate climate damage when establishing policies.

Today a panel of judges on the Fifth Circuit issued a stay of that injunction. The Fifth Circuit ruling means policy makers can continue relying on the social cost of carbon to protect people from climate pollution while the case works its way through the judicial system

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