SALT LAKE CITY, UT — Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a 21-state coalition challenging the Biden Administration’s latest extreme climate rule, which mandates that states with federal interstates and highways must adopt stringent CO2 emissions standards. The attorneys general argue that Congress has not given the Department of Transportation the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
Attorney General Reyes and the Kentucky-led coalition assert that DOT’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) overstepped its legal authority. The coalition writes, “Congress has not given FHWA or DOT authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Nor can the Agencies compel the States to administer a federal regulatory program or mandate them to further Executive policy wishes absent some other authority to do so—which is lacking as to this rule.”
They also make clear that the proposed measure violates the principles of federalism by requiring states to implement a federal regulatory program. The complaint explains: “The Constitution is also clear that action by the States cannot be mandated through federal action like the Final Rule. ‘The Federal Government may not compel the States to enact or administer a federal regulatory program.’ [because] ‘the Constitution protects us from our own best intentions: It divides power among sovereigns and among branches of government precisely so that we may resist the temptation to concentrate power in one location as an expedient solution to the crisis of the day.’” Accordingly, “[e]ven if Congress believed the Final Rule was the best means of reducing CO2 in order to address climate change, the States could not be directed to implement the policy choices of the federal government.”
Further, the attorneys general note that FHWA previously issued a similar rule, which was repealed after the agency determined that the measure may duplicate “existing efforts in some States” and imposed “unnecessary burdens on State DOTs and MPOs [metropolitan planning organizations] that were not contemplated by Congress.”
Kentucky’s coalition is joined by Utah and the attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming in the lawsuit.