Federal judge blocks Biden’s highway emissions rule, siding with AG Ashley Moody

by | Apr 2, 2024

A federal judge has nullified the Biden administration’s highway emissions regulation following a lawsuit from Florida AG Ashley Moody and a 21-state coalition, challenging its impact on economic development and state sovereignty.

A federal judge on Tuesday struck down the Biden administration’s highway emissions regulation, delivering a victory to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and a coalition of 21 other states.

The regulation, which aimed to lower carbon dioxide emissions from the national highway system, was contested for its potential to shift away from gas-powered vehicles.

The legal challenge, led by Moody, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, arguing that the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) rule exceeded federal authority.

In the ruling, the court held that the FHWA overstepped its authority, delving into state sovereignty and policy-making on environmental issues without clear congressional delegation.

The court found that the agency’s justifications for the rule—touted as a modest benchmarking exercise aimed at guiding state allocation of federal highway funds towards reducing CO2 emissions—unconvincing and unsupported by the statutory authority.

“A tailpipe-emissions reduction forced on states under the guise of highway planning is just another example of a regulatory elephant squeezed into a statutory mousehole,” the order reads. “The Court declares that the Final Rule exceeds the Federal Highway Administration’s statutory authority and is arbitrary and capricious.”

It further critiqued the FHWA’s rationale, noting the absence of a clear mechanism by which the rule would achieve its stated goals of emissions reduction and enhanced data collection for environmental performance.

The rule, now overturned, required states to set and meet targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from on-road sources. Critics, including the coalition of states, raised concerns that the mandate could hinder economic development.

“This court decision is a major victory against Biden overstepping his authority to push a radical political agenda on Americans,” Moody remarked, highlighting the significance of the ruling in protecting state interests against federal overreach.

The coalition challenging the rule included Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Their joint opposition underscores a broader unease about the impact of federal environmental mandates on state sovereignty and economic growth.


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