Spending by federal agencies is governed by the extensive Federal Acquisition Regulations or FAR for short. In response to a Biden executive order the FAR Council is conducting a silly public inquiry as to how climate change should be factored into federal spending. The Federal Government spends over $6 trillion a year so this is a very big deal.

The concept is ridiculous and some of the ideas are illegal but this foolish agency action deserves serious attention. The FAR Council has issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM) titled “Federal Acquisition Regulation: Minimizing the Risk of Climate Change in Federal Acquisitions“. Comments are due by December 15. I urge people to comment.

See https://www.regulations.gov/document/FAR-2021-0016-0001

Advanced Notices like this are asking for ideas prior to proposing regulations, including that the whole idea is nuts. One of the worst things mentioned is that in competitive procurements agencies should give preference to bidders who are cutting their emissions. I cannot believe this is legal but there it is.

The ANPRM includes this list of leading questions:

(a)How can greenhouse gas emissions, including the social cost of greenhouse gases, best be qualitatively and quantitatively considered in Federal procurement decisions, both domestic and overseas? How might this vary across different sectors?

(b) What are usable and respected methodologies for measuring the greenhouse gases emissions over the lifecycle of the products procured or leased, or of the services performed?

(c) How can procurement and program officials of major Federal agency procurements better incorporate and mitigate climate-related financial risk? How else might the Federal Government consider and minimize climate-related financial risks through procurement decisions, both domestic and overseas?

(d) How would (or how does) your organization provide greenhouse gas emission data for proposals and/or contract performance?

(e) How might the Federal Government best standardize greenhouse gas emission reporting methods? How might the Government verify greenhouse gas emissions reporting?

(f) How might the Federal Government give preference to bids and proposals from suppliers, both domestic and overseas, to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions or reduce the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions most effectively?

(g) How might the Government consider commitments by suppliers to reduce or mitigate greenhouse gas emissions?

(h) What impact would consideration of the social cost of greenhouse gases in procurement decisions have on small businesses, including small disadvantaged businesses, women-owned small businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, and Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) small businesses? How should the FAR Council best align this objective with efforts to ensure opportunity for small businesses?

The questions imply proposals that clearly make federal spending an instrument of alarmist policy. Suppliers are required to report their greenhouse emissions and to take steps to reduce them. The result can only be to drive up the cost of goods and services, which taxpayers pay for.

I see no statutory authority for this nonsense. Surely only Congress can make rules like this. Agencies cannot just decide what to buy based on Biden’s climate power agenda.

Some of this is truly far out, like asking procurement officials to measure the life cycle emissions of products and services. Complex products up to and including warships can have components, sub components, etc., from all over the world, and lead long complex lives. In fact the Defense Department is a lead agency in this ANPRM, as is NASA.

Imagine trying to measure the life cycle emissions for $6 trillion a year’s worth of products and services, and then basing procurement decisions on these measures. This is truly absurd.

There is also this vaguest of concepts: the “climate-related financial risks” to the Federal Government, which are supposed to be both mitigated and minimized. The real risk here is doing silly stuff in the name of climate alarmism.

And of course there is the nutty “social cost of greenhouse gases”. This goofy number is claimed to measure to the dollar the damage done over the next 300 years by a ton of today’s emissions. I am not making this up!

The Biden Administration is trying to grab power it does not have, using regulations that have no statutory authority. I urge people to comment, especially saying how stupid and dangerous this proposed rule making really is.

Author

  • David Wojick

    David Wojick, Ph.D. is an independent analyst working at the intersection of science, technology and policy. For origins see http://www.stemed.info/engineer_tackles_confusion.html For over 100 prior articles for CFACT see http://www.cfact.org/author/david-wojick-ph-d/ Available for confidential research and consulting.