Lawsuit Against Executive Order Regarding Social Cost of Greenhouse Emissions Dismissed

Judge Audrey Fleissig of the Eastern District of Missouri dismissed a lawsuit filed by 13 states and led by Missouri contesting an executive order from the Biden Administration on Tuesday. The lawsuit argued that the executive branch overstepped its powers by organizing a working group to set a monetary value on greenhouse gas emissions. 

The parties discussed dismissal, along with the merits of a preliminary injunction against the defendants, in a hearing last week. The defendants argued that the plaintiffs did not have standing and that they should instead challenge a specific statute once one is impacted by the executive order. 

The plaintiffs argued that the working group called for by the order should not be allowed to alter statute, but that setting a social cost should be done by the legislative branch. The plaintiffs specifically contested that the executive order said that agencies “shall use” the estimates from the working group when monetizing emissions. 

The court’s memorandum explained its reasoning for determining that the plaintiffs did not merit Article III standing, noting that the plaintiffs failed to establish injury in fact, that the injury is likely rather than speculative, that there is a relationship between the alleged injury and the defendant’s actions, and that a decision in their favor would “likely redress the injury.” 

“In light of the inherently speculative nature of Plaintiffs’ alleged harm, it is unknowable in advance whether that harm caused by possible future regulations would have any causal connection to EO 13990 or the Interim Estimates. The causal chain, supported by a number of bare assumptions, is too weak for standing,” the memorandum and order said. 

Additionally, Judge Fleissig ruled that the plaintiffs’ claims are not ripe because the alleged impacts of the contested executive order cannot currently be felt by the plaintiffs. The court determined that it lacked jurisdiction on the remaining arguments, and dismissed the matter without prejudice. 

The states are represented by their attorneys general, and the federal defendants are represented by the U.S. Department of Justice.