Schmitt and other Republican attorneys general sue Biden administration over climate change executive order


Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt discusses the Safer Streets Initiative at an event in St. Louis (photo courtesy of the Missouri Attorney General’s Office).

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is leading a coalition of 12 states in filing suit against President Joe Biden’s administration over an executive order Biden signed that focuses on climate change, an initiative Schmitt characterized as a “massive expansion of federal regulations through executive order, potentially impacting nearly every aspect of the economy and Missouri household.”

In addition to Missouri, state attorneys general from Arkansas, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah joined the suit.

“Manufacturing, agriculture, and energy production are essential to Missouri’s economy and employ thousands of hard-working Missourians across the state. Under President Biden’s executive order, which he didn’t have the authority to enact, these hard-working Missourians who have lived and worked this land for generations could be left in the dust,” Schmitt said in the announcement. “From higher energy bills to lost jobs, this massive expansion of federal regulatory power has the potential to impact nearly every household in this state – that’s why today I’m leading a coalition of states to put a stop to this executive order and protect Missouri families.”

The lawsuit, which challenges President Biden’s Executive Order 13990, titled “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis,” alleges that the Biden administration did not have the authority to issue binding numbers for the “social costs of greenhouse gases” to be used in federal regulations, and that the potential stringency of federal regulations that could come from this executive order will stifle manufacturing, harm agriculture and have serious economic impact across the country.

Two industries that will be impacted by Biden’s executive order, manufacturing and agriculture, are two of the largest industries in Missouri, Schmitt’s office noted in the news release. According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, in 2019 alone, Missouri produced $290.9 billion in goods and services. Missouri’s agricultural industry contributes $88 billion to the state’s economy each year and employs nearly 400,000 people across the state.

The Missouri Farm Bureau applauded the effort.

“For decades, farmers and ranchers have led the way in producing more food, fuel and fiber while reducing their environmental impact, including capturing carbon in more ways than ever. Government should not get in the way of our continued progress by adding regulations that dramatically increase production costs. We applaud AG Schmitt’s commitment to agriculture and his vigilance against overregulation,” said Garrett Hawkins, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau.

The lawsuit notes that the interagency working group’s interim values, assuming similar rates of emission between 2019 and 2020 in the United States and a discount rate of 3 percent, place the social cost of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide at approximately $9.5 trillion per year — $269 billion for carbon dioxide, $990 billion for methane and $8.24 trillion for nitrous oxide.

The suit states, “In practice, President Biden’s order directs federal agencies to use this enormous figure to justify an equally enormous expansion of federal regulatory power that will intrude into every aspect of Americans’ lives — from their cars, to their refrigerators and homes, to their grocery and electric bills. If the Executive Order stands, it will inflict hundreds of billions or trillions of dollars of damage to the U.S. economy for decades to come. It will destroy jobs, stifle energy production, strangle America’s energy independence, suppress agriculture, deter innovation, and impoverish working families.”

The states argue in the lawsuit that using these interim values could massively expand the scope and reach of the regulatory power of the federal government, potentially impacting the United States economy and every household in America.

According to the lawsuit, “The potential regulatory impact of such numbers is enormous. These numbers are high enough to justify massive increases in regulatory restrictions on agricultural practices, energy production, energy use, or any other economic activity that results in the emission of such gases. When agencies follow President Biden’s directive that the agencies ‘shall’ use these Interim Values in their rulemakings and other regulatory activities, the use of these numbers will inevitably result in more restrictive regulatory policies in innumerable areas.”

In arguing that President Biden’s administration did not have the authority to enact this executive order and that this action should be taken by Congress, the lawsuit contends that the executive order did not have statutory authorization to create the working group, nor did the working group have statutory authority to set values for the social costs of carbon, methane and nitrous oxide that “shall be used by regulatory agencies administering statutes pursuant to statutory delegation of authority enacted by congress.”

Further, the lawsuit argues that dictating binding values for the social costs of carbon, nitrous oxide and methane is a legislative action “that the Constitution vests exclusively in Congress through the vesting clause of Article I, § 1 of the Constitution.” 

Schmitt’s office said, “The president’s exercise of this legislative authority thus violates the separation of powers, the most fundamental bulwark of liberty.”

The lawsuit also alleges that the working group violated the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act. The lawsuit points to the fact that there was no public notice or opportunity for public comment before publishing interim estimates and that the proper weight was not given to the positive benefits of “affordable and reliable domestic energy and agricultural production.”

The full lawsuit can be found here:—states-v-biden—complaint—final.pdf?sfvrsn=6173c1c1_2