Biden Admin Rolled Out A Massive Highway Emissions Rule On Thanksgiving Eve

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Nick Pope Contributor
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The Biden administration unveiled a massive set of highway emissions regulations on Wednesday as Americans were settling in for the holiday weekend.

The finalized rule, announced by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), effectively requires state and local transportation agencies to establish greenhouse gas reduction targets for federally-funded roadway projects. Critics of the rule assert that it is an attempt to use federal highway funding as a cudgel to impose climate policies on state and municipal governments.

“Federal overreach to advance a misguided climate agenda has become a staple of the Biden administration,” Republican West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The final rule, which imposes the performance measure and the requirement to set greenhouse gas targets on state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations (MPO), is just one more example of these harmful regulations.” (RELATED: Biden Admin Unveils Plan To Track And Reduce CO2 Emissions From Cars Driving On Highways)

Similar emissions reduction requirements for federally-funded highway projects were deliberately excluded from the bipartisan infrastructure law as Congress was negotiating on the package, which President Joe Biden signed into law in November 2021, Capito told the DCNF.

“Without the authority to impose this mandate, the FHWA is ignoring the letter of the law to finalize a rule that hampers the ability of state DOTs and MPOs to address the transportation needs of their constituents,” Capito told the DCNF.

The timing of the announcement “is not unusual for a significant rulemaking, particularly one that received over 39,000 comments,” a FHWA spokesperson told the DCNF. “We prioritized making vast resources within the Biden-Harris administration’s bipartisan infrastructure law available to states ahead of asking states to set greenhouse gas emissions targets and measure their progress.”

The rule does not stipulate how much state and local transportation authorities have to cut emissions, only establishing that their targets have to reflect an overall reduction. The agency touted this structure as providing flexibility in its announcement, but some critics are not convinced.

“The bipartisan infrastructure law would not have been bipartisan had it included requirements on states for mitigating the impacts of global climate change,” American Road and Transportation Builders Association CEO Dave Bauer said of the rule. “States should be prioritizing the delivery of transportation safety and mobility improvements with the funds from the landmark BIL, while consensus solutions are pursued to the world’s climate issues.”

Republican North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer said that the rule is “fundamentally unworkable” in rural states like his, which are not well-positioned to come into compliance with the emissions monitoring and reporting standards.

“It’s not surprising the Biden administration had Mayor Pete drop this regulation just as many Americans were fighting traffic to be with family on Thanksgiving on roads he won’t fix because he’s squandering gas tax money on bike lanes and climate nonsense,” Dan Kish, senior research fellow for the Institute for Energy Research, told the DCNF. “They don’t let the law get in the way of them imposing new edicts on Americans.”

The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

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