Foreign Impacts and Climate Change

By Arden Rowell

U.S. administrative agencies now routinely base domestic regulatory decisions upon the expected global impacts of carbon dioxide emissions. This is a startling divergence from traditional regulatory practice, which had been to entirely exclude foreign impacts from domestic regulatory analysis. Even more strikingly, this significant shift in valuation practice has occurred with virtually no legal analysis as to when or whether agencies have the statutory authority to consider foreign impacts. As a result, a number of recent rules proposed on the basis of a globally scoped Social Cost of Carbon (“SCC”) are now vulnerable to legal challenge. To insulate future rules against such challenges, agencies should adopt the globally scoped SCC only where they have performed individualized, statute-specific analyses of their own authority to incorporate foreign impacts into their decisions.

Cite as: Arden Rowell, Foreign Impacts and Climate Change, 39 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 371 (2015).

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