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Transport Groups Oppose Obama Greenhouse Gas Power Grab

Twenty-three organizations representing highway users, transportation, vehicle, and energy trade associations filed joint comments last weekend opposing any proposal by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to impose greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets on state transportation departments and metropolitan planning organizations.

The groups are responding to an FHWA proposed rule requesting public comment on “whether and how to establish a CO2 emissions measure in the final rule.” FHWA invokes the Paris Climate Treaty, its goal of limiting global temperature increases to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels,” and its exhortation to industrial countries to demonstrate leadership in implementing “economy-wide absolute emissions reduction targets.”

FHWA seeks comment on numerous technical matters but not about the legality of its climate ambition. As the transport groups explain in their joint filing, the agency has no authority to establish GHG performance measures for managing U.S. transport projects and infrastructure.

23 USC 150 is the statutory authority for national transportation goals and performance measures. There, Congress provided that U.S. DOT shall “limit performance measures only to those described in this subsection.” The provision does not mention performance measures for GHGs. The provision, moreover, directs DOT to carry out the congestion mitigation and air quality improvement program in 23 USC 149, which does not include GHGs among the pollutants to be reduced.

The transport coalition’s press release provides additional detail.