December 7, 2023

Washington Wire: EPA Proposes Increased Social Cost of Carbon Estimates



EPA Proposes Increased Social Cost of Carbon Estimates 
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has introduced an updated approach to estimating the social cost of carbon (SCC) at $190 in a draft report issued alongside a new supplemental rule that would strengthen oil and gas methane standards. The EPA “Report on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases,” released on November 11, 2022, proposes significantly higher estimates of the societal harms that result from each incremental ton of greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere, nearly four times the interim central estimate of $51 per metric ton of CO2 issued by the Biden administration’s Interagency Working Group (IWG). 
EPA's draft report, on which the agency is seeking external review, recommends setting a social cost of carbon dioxide that ranges from $120 to $340 per ton in 2020 with a central estimate of $190, to between $280 and $600 per ton in 2080. The EPA’s draft values come as the IWG is working to update the SCC to guide all federal policymaking.  Federal agencies use the SCC to measure the impact on the public of a pollutant and to justify new or expanded regulations. Under Obama, the EPA set the SCC at $50 per ton, a figure lowered by Trump’s EPA to $1, before the Biden administration reset the figure at today’s $51 per ton.



EPA to Soon Issue Final Heavy-Duty Truck NOx Rule
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has sent to the White House its draft final heavy-duty truck nitrogen oxides (NOx) rule for review, intending to release the final rule by the end of the year. The agency remains under a tight deadline to finalize the regulation and provide sufficient lead time to allow the new limits to apply in model year (MY) 2027, when new California standards and 'phase 2' federal GHG limits apply, a key demand of equipment suppliers.
In March 2022, the EPA issued proposed heavy-duty truck nitrogen oxides (NOx) and GHG standards. The draft rule, which was the first step in the EPA’s broader Cleaner Trucks Initiative, offered two options for curbing emissions of NOx from gas- and diesel-fueled trucks. While both would strengthen standards starting in MY 2027, the first would implement the tighter limits in two phases, with the second phase following in 2031 resulting in the MY 2031 being 90 percent lower than today’s standards. The second option would immediately jump to full implementation in MY 2027 but result in lower NOx emissions reduction than the first option. 
Additionally, the agency is abandoning a plan to issue a supplemental GHG proposal for medium- and heavy-duty trucks for MY27-29 to consider stronger GHG standards in response to the passage of truck electrification incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Instead, EPA will advance its planned phase 3 GHG truck rule earlier than expected with a proposal in March and a final rule by the end of 2023 that will cover MY27 through at least MY30.



ITA Considers New Regulation on Calculation of Antidumping Duty Rates
The International Trade Administration (ITA) has issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) to invite public comments on new regulations revising the “particular market situation” methodology ITA uses in the calculation of antidumping duty rates to account for distorted production costs in a foreign market. Costs deemed to be distorted by the PMS are adjusted when setting the antidumping margin. 
Specifically, ITA is requesting input to identify:
  • information Commerce should consider in determining if a PMS exists which distorts the costs of production if that information is reasonably available and relevant to the PMS allegation;
  • information Commerce should not be required to consider when determining if a PMS exists, regardless of the PMS allegation; and
  • adjustments which Commerce may make to its calculations when it determines the existence of a PMS, but the record before it does not allow for the quantification of cost distortions. 
Comments will be accepted through December 18, 2022. 



Treasury Releases Currency Manipulation Report
The Department of the Treasury has released its currency manipulation report maintaining countries like China and Japan on its list of trading partners to monitor while removing several others such as India, Mexico, and Vietnam.  Federal law requires the Treasury Department to report to Congress every six months if any country is manipulating its currencies to gain trade advantages over the U.S.
The report, entitled “Macroeconomic and Foreign Exchange Policies of Major Trading Partners of the United States,” examines recent developments in the policies of the 20 largest U.S. trading partners, spanning four quarters through June 2022. For the report Treasury assessed each trading partner on three criteria: 1) a bilateral trade surplus with the US (surplus of at least $15 billion in goods and services); 2) a material current account surplus of at least 3 percent GDP or a surplus for which Treasury estimates there is a material current account “gap”; and 3) “persistent” one-sided intervention when net purchases of foreign currency totaling at least 2 percent of an economy’s GDP are conducted repeatedly, in at least 8 out of 12 months. Any country meeting two of the three criteria is placed on the watch list. 
In the report, Treasury found that none of the 20 trading partners manipulated its exchange rates, but included seven countries for monitoring including China, Japan, Korea, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan. The report did state that Switzerland exceeded U.S. thresholds for possible currency manipulation but will continue the enhanced analysis of Switzerland’s policies as well as bilateral engagement with Swiss authorities regarding its currency practices to address imbalances. 
Five countries were removed from the list after meeting only one of the three criteria for two consecutive reports, India, Italy, Mexico, Thailand, and Vietnam.



Changes to Procedures for Reporting OSHA Injury and Illness Data
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has implemented new login procedures for the online reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses. Moving forward companies submitting reports through OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA) will be required to connect their ITA account to a account using the same email address. 
Employers who are required to submit Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) must create a account or link an existing account to access ITA and complete their 2022 OSHA Form 300A, which is due by March 2, 2023.