Congressman Crawford and Senator Cramer Lead Resolution to Overturn FHWA’s Illegal, Impractical GHG Emissions Performance Measure Rule
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) finalized a rule in November 2023, imposing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions performance measures on state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations despite lacking the authority from Congress to do so. This misguided regulation is another case of gross federal overreach from the Biden administration, which saddles states with burdensome and unlawful requirements.
Congressman Rick Crawford (R-AR-01) and U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), with Congressman Sam Graves (R-MO-06) and U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), introduced a bicameral Congressional Review Act (CRA) Joint Resolution of Disapproval to nullify the FHWA rule and illustrate Congress’ objection to this federal overreach.
“This one size fits all regulation puts states with more small towns and rural communities that are not able to cut emissions by building a metro system, buying electric buses, or building miles of bike lanes between communities at a significant disadvantage. What’s most galling is that this administration has implemented this rule despite having no statutory authority to do so. This is the heavy hand of the federal government run amok,” said Rep. Crawford, Chairman of the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee.
“The absence of a prohibition is not a license, and yet the Biden administration pushed this illegal and infeasible regulation anyway. New York and North Dakota have very different transportation systems, needs, and capabilities, but under this one-size-fits all mandate, they’re effectively treated the same. A subway stop at a cattle ranch is silly and unserious, and so is the idea of widespread EV use in North Dakota. Nearly half the Senate cosponsored this resolution from the onset, showing strong appetite for this rule to be defeated,” said Senator Cramer, Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
“While the infrastructure law included provisions to address transportation related environmental impacts and transportation resiliency, Congress considered and specifically rejected the inclusion of a GHG performance measure requirement during negotiations. The Biden administration needs to implement the law that was written – not a law that it keeps wishing had been written,” said Rep. Graves, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
“Once again, the Biden administration is blatantly neglecting the letter of a bipartisan law passed by Congress and signed by the president himself. FHWA’s final rule limits the flexibility of states to advance their own transportation investment priorities, jeopardizing critical investments, jobs, and economic growth across the country. When we negotiated the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, we specifically left out the authority FHWA is attempting to exercise with its greenhouse gas emissions performance measure requirement. As we’ve done before, I am committed to working with my Senate and House colleagues to hold the Biden administration accountable,” said Senator Capito, Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
“The FHWA’s final rule is yet another example of irresponsible federal overreach. This rule will cause serious economic damage to our transportation industries, especially in rural states like West Virginia with heavy freight traffic. Let me be clear – the Administration does not have the authority to burden state DOTs with these radical emissions performance measures without Congressional direction. I’m proud to introduce this resolution of disapproval and I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to oppose the FHWA’s unlawful and economically irresponsible power grab,” said Senator Manchin, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Congress has not provided the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) with any statutory authority to implement this proposal. It was thoroughly debated and intentionally left out of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. FHWA’s new rule resembles a 2017 Obama administration rule the Trump administration repealed in 2018 after reconsidering the legal authority under which it was promulgated. Additionally, the agency’s proposal is not workable, as illustrated by comments from a majority of state DOTs and Attorneys General, which raised concerns or outright opposed it.
In total, 64 House Republicans – including Chairman Crawford and Chairman Graves – introduced the measure today in the House of Representatives.
Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Crawford has repeatedly raised concerns with respect to FHWA’s rule. During a full Committee hearing in January, he discussed the rule with a witness testifying on behalf of the Associated General Contractors of America, including the significant challenges to rural areas. This exchange highlights the obvious disadvantage rural communities stand to face under this rule.
Previously, during a December 2023 Highways and Transit Subcommittee hearing, Chairman Crawford pressed FHWA Administrator Shailen Bhatt regarding the Administration’s lack of statutory authority to create a GHG performance measure, highlighting that such a policy was considered and rejected during Senate negotiations of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
In September 2022, Rep. Crawford and then-Ranking Member Graves wrote to Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg highlighting Republicans’ commitment to ensuring the Department did not exceed its statutory authority following the Supreme Court’s West Virginia v. EPA decision. The letter raised concerns with several overreaching DOT rulemakings, including FHWA’s July 7, 2022, notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to create a GHG performance measure.