Florida sues Biden administration over federal CO2 emission reduction guidelines

by | Dec 22, 2023



  • Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, with support from Governor Ron DeSantis, has initiated a lawsuit against the Biden administration, challenging a new federal rule that mandates states to set targets for reducing CO2 emissions from road transportation.
  • The lawsuit, joined by 21 other states, argues that the rule oversteps the U.S. Department of Transportation’s legal authority and infringes on states’ rights.
  • The rule in question, aimed at combating climate change, requires states with National Highway System mileage to establish and report goals for CO2 reduction.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, backed by Governor Ron DeSantis, has filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration, challenging a new federal rule that mandates states to establish targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from road transportation.

This filing, joined by a coalition of 21 states, argues that the rule exceeds the legal authority of the U.S. Department of Transportation and infringes on states’ rights.

“The Florida Department of Transportation has continued to voice concerns about the rule for well over a year, yet never received complete answers before the rule was finalized,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared W. Perdue. Operating in this manner is irresponsible and reckless, which is why Florida proudly stands united with these other states to safeguard the freedoms that this nation is so well known for.”

The rule, part of the Biden administration’s efforts to combat climate change, requires states with National Highway System mileage to set and report CO2 reduction goals. The Florida lawsuit contends that this imposes significant burdens on states, demanding considerable resources and time without clear guidelines or success metrics.

The complaint further asserts that the rule is an overreach by the federal government, as Congress has not authorized the Department of Transportation to regulate greenhouse gas emissions or compel states to follow a federal regulatory program.

“Agencies simply do not have authority to issue [the rule]. Congress has not given the Federal Highway Administration or U.S. Department of Transportation authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions,” reads the complaint. “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.”

In a release, Moody criticized the rule as harmful to Florida’s economy and an extension of what she terms the Biden administration’s “reckless energy policies.”

The Biden-Harris administration, through the FHWA, finalized a greenhouse gas emissions reduction tool earlier this year as part of a broader initiative to tackle climate change. The administered performance measure provides State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) with a national framework to track transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions while granting States and MPOs the flexibility to set their own reduction targets.

Supporting Biden’s goal to halve carbon pollution by 2030, the FHWA measure integrates into the existing national performance measures. It creates a system where state DOTs and MPOs set their targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from roadway travel, with no associated penalties for missing these targets. This approach is backed by more than $27 billion in federal funding from various programs under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act and seeks to advance a transition towards cleaner energy sources and transportation methods.

“Transportation is the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and reducing emissions from that sector while ensuring our economy works for everyday Americans is critical to addressing the climate crisis,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt. “We don’t expect state DOTs and MPOs to solve a problem this large on their own, which is why this performance measure does not impose penalties for those who miss their targets.”

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