We Sued and Administration Backs Down on Transportation Rule

In the face of lawsuits it couldn’t win, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has lifted its suspension of a greenhouse gas (GHG) measure for transportation, via this notice, which will be published in the Federal Register Thursday.

Without notice or comment, in clear violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, FHWA had illegally suspended the measure on May 19, 2017. FHWA’s website now makes clear that the GHG measure will go back into effect and the measure’s first compliance deadline of October 2018 remains in effect. The administration also signals its intent to initiate a new rulemaking in 2017, which they hope to finalize in the spring of 2018.

The GHG measure was one of several promulgated by FHWA through a rule implementing the 2012 federal transportation law Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). The measure, which NRDC wrote about here, here, and here, covers measurement of heat-trapping carbon pollution and target-setting for reducing it. The measure will have the added benefit of reducing other dangerous air pollutants generated by mobile sources (i.e. tailpipes).

After FHWA announced that it was indefinitely delaying implementation of the GHG measure in May, NRDC joined forces with the US Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) and the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) on behalf of Clean Air Carolina to challenge the agency’s action in court. And late last week, a group of 8 states filed suit against this unlawful action by FHWA as well.

This action was blatantly against the law. Important rules such as this one take a year or so to develop, with adequate comment periods (this one’s spanned four months). A new administration can’t just willy-nilly decline to follow through. So we sued, as written about here and here.

Why We Sued

The United States spends about half-a-trillion dollars on transportation annually. Local jurisdictions, states and the federal government funnel money toward highway, road, rail and bike…

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