President Obama bestowed a top scientific honor on two climate change scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency who help guide the development of his far-reching climate rules.

"I am pleased and proud to see two members of the EPA family recognized with this prestigious honor," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said. The two scientists were innovators in the development of a metric used to gauge the "social cost" of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that many scientists say is to blame for manmade global warming.

"Through their innovative research, Drs. [Alex] Marten and [Rebecca] Dodder have helped paint clearer pictures of the social costs of greenhouse gas pollution and the impacts of our energy choices on the natural world," McCarthy said.

The social cost of carbon has come under intense scrutiny by Republicans on Capitol Hill for its role in determining the stringency of EPA regulations, such as the centerpiece of the president's climate agenda, the Clean Power Plan.

The EPA said Marten's "research has helped guide the ongoing discussions about how the U.S. government values the economic benefits of rulemakings that reduce [greenhouse gas] emissions."

The Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers "is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers," the EPA said.

"Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach," according to the agency.

The two EPA scientists were part of a group of 104 federal recipients to receive the award. The awards will be presented at a ceremony held in the spring.