Current Issue

Michael Burger – Since the enactment of the Mineral Leasing Act in 1920 and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act in 1953 the United States federal government has leased onshore and submerged public lands to private companies to mine coal and drill for oil and gas, often at a steep discount, and often with little or no accounting for the broad scope of these fossil fuels’ environmental externalities.  The raft of environmental legislation that passed through Congress in the 1970s addressed these issues to some degree.  For example, the Federal Coal Leasing Amendment Act required the United States to, among other things, recover “fair market value” of each lease; the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act established a system for controlling local environmental impacts from coal mining; the National Environmental Policy Act required the federal government to assess, analyze and disclose potential adverse environmental impacts from federal actions, including cumulative […]

A Carbon Fee As Mitigation For Fossil Fuel Extraction On Federal Lands

Peter Howard & Jason Schwartz – U.S. climate regulations present a special case of federal agencies applying a global, rather than exclusively domestic, perspective to the costs and benefits in their regulatory impact analyses.  Since 2010, federal agencies have emphasized global valuations of climate damages for policies that affect carbon dioxide emissions, using a metric called the “Social Cost of Carbon.”  More recently, agencies have also begun to use a global valuation of the “Social Cost of Methane,” for methane emissions.  Yet lately, these global metrics have come under attack in courtrooms and academic journals, where opponents have challenged the statutory authority and economic justification for global values.  This paper defends a continued focus on the global effects of U.S. climate policy, drawing on legal, strategic, and economic arguments. International reciprocity presents the strongest justification for a global focus.  Because the world’s climate is a single interconnected system, the United […]

Think Global: International Reciprocity as Justification for a Global Social Cost of Carbon