Regulatory Impact Analysis: Development of Social Cost of Carbon Estimates

Executive Order 12866 directs federal agencies to assess the economic effects of their proposed significant regulatory actions, including a determination that a regulation’s benefits justify the costs. In 2008, a federal appeals court directed the Department of Transportation (DOT) to update a regulatory impact analysis with an estimate of the social cost of carbon—the dollar value of the net effects (damages and benefits) of an increase in emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. In 2009, the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Carbon was convened to develop estimates for use governmentwide, and it issued final estimates in its 2010 Technical Support Document. In 2013, the group issued revised estimates that were about 50 percent higher than the 2010 estimates, which raised public interest. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to review the working group’s development of social cost of carbon estimates. This report describes the participating entities and processes and methods they used to develop the 2010 and 2013 estimates. GAO reviewed executive orders, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance, the Technical Support Document, its 2013 update, and other key documents. GAO interviewed officials who participated in the working group on behalf of the Executive Office of the President (EOP) offices and agencies involved. GAO did not evaluate the quality of the working group’s approach. GAO is making no recommendations in this report. Of seven agencies, OMB and Treasury provided written or oral comments and generally agreed with the findings in this report. Other agencies provided technical comments only or had no comments.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 36p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01538136
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO-14-663
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 25 2014 1:08PM