States argue that they lack the necessary authority to assess such emissions.
Performance measures related to emissions continue to generate debate, controversy, and legal conflicts with the Biden administration. A few months ago, it was revealed that several states were preparing a lawsuit to challenge the established provisions. Both state transportation departments and metropolitan planning organizations joined forces to have the attorneys general of 21 states file a direct lawsuit against the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), its administrator Shailen Bhatt, the U.S. Department of Transportation led by Pete Buttigieg, and President Joe Biden.
Amidst a growing debate, the recently implemented final rule by the FHWA adds an additional performance measure for greenhouse gas emissions to the existing national measures. This regulation urges state Departments of Transportation (DOT) and metropolitan planning organizations to set declining targets to reduce CO2 emissions from vehicles on the National Highway System. States argue that they lack the necessary authority to assess such emissions.
According to the rule, state DOTs and planning organizations must establish and report these objectives for the initial four-year period by February 1. While the rule does not specify the magnitude of the objectives, it provides flexibility for states to determine appropriate goals based on the needs and priorities of their communities regarding climate change and other policies. The FHWA will assess the states’ progress towards achieving these objectives.
The rule, set to take effect on January 8, has stirred legal tensions, as some states question the FHWA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. In the lawsuit, states reference a similar rule repealed by the Trump administration in 2018, arguing that the FHWA lacks legal authority to impose specific emission reductions at the state level.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron leads the opposition, accusing President Biden of unconstitutionally imposing his climate agenda through unconstitutional actions by administrative agencies. The lawsuit also claims that emission performance measures will disproportionately affect states with rural areas, noting that those with higher annual miles per driver tend to be more rural.
The lawsuit is supported by attorneys general from another 20 states, marking a significant legal challenge to measures implemented by the current administration. The situation promises to continue generating controversy and national attention in the coming months.
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