States Fight Dismissal in Lawsuit Against Biden Administration’s Environmental Policy

A group of states that filed a Eastern District of Missouri lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s environmental policies regarding setting a “social cost” for greenhouse gas emissions filed a document supporting their request for a preliminary injunction and opposing the defendant’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit on Friday. 

The initial complaint was filed by 12 states, Missouri, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.  Alaska later joined the lawsuit as a plaintiff. The states and their attorneys general argued that the Biden administration policy of setting a social cost of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, which was done through Executive Order 13900, was a breach of the separation of powers as set out in the constitution. 

The states alleged that setting the social cost is speculative and that the increase expected under the Biden administration’s decision could lead to unnecessary restrictions in agriculture and other economic activities, and would lead to significant costs and damage to the economy. 

In June, Biden asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, alleging that the claims are meritorious and that the plaintiffs did not understand the executive order and are instead contesting federal climate change policy.  The motion to dismiss said that this is a policy disagreement, and should be contested within political branches, and not by the judiciary branch. The defendant noted that setting the social cost has traditionally been done by the executive branch and that the plaintiffs do not have standing as they have not been injured. 

In the present filing, the states argued that they do have standing under Article II, claiming that they have “suffered a clear procedural injury” and that the interim values set by the administration are currently causing a risk of harm to the plaintiffs, as federal agencies are required to use the interim values. Because the values set by the Biden administration are currently being used, the plaintiffs argued that their claims are not “‘hypothetical’ and ‘speculative’” as the defendant had purported. 

The states further alleged that their claims are likely to succeed, and that the balance of public interest should lead the court to approve their request for an injunction. They asked the court to preliminarily enjoin the defendants, except President Biden, which includes various federal agencies and individuals associated with them from using the interim social cost determined by the current administration, and to deny the defendants’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit.