Republican Lawmakers Target FHWA Rule

Freight Stakeholders Support Joint Resolution on Emissions
DOT Headquarters
The Federal Highway Administration's rule establishes a method for the measurement and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation. (Department of Transportation)

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Senior Republicans are seeking to undo emissions targets the Federal Highway Administration is requiring of state transportation agencies.

Relying on a procedural resolution, the lawmakers seek to nullify the recent move by FHWA. The Republican measure’s consideration has yet to be scheduled for a vote. This procedural tool from Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) and fellow Republicans coincides with their caucus’ opposition to the Biden administration’s climate change and economic agenda.

“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,” Crawford, chairman of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, said Feb. 7. “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.”

Crawford is the joint resolution of disapproval’s lead sponsor.

“While the infrastructure law included provisions to address transportation-related environmental impacts and transportation resiliency, Congress considered and specifically rejected the inclusion of a [greenhouse gas] performance-measure requirement during negotiations,” added Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “The Biden administration needs to implement the law that was written — not a law that it keeps wishing had been written.”

More than five dozen Republican colleagues in the House have co-sponsored the resolution. FHWA’s rule requires state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations to establish declining carbon dioxide targets. State DOTs and MPOs also are required to issue reports about their progress toward achieving those targets.

Sen. Kevin Cramer


On the other side of the Capitol, most senators have expressed their support. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, is leading the effort.

“The absence of a prohibition is not a license, and yet the Biden administration pushed this illegal and infeasible regulation anyway,” he said. “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.”

Shelley Moore Capito


Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, emphasized, “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.”

Dozens of freight stakeholders have endorsed the lawmaker’s procedural response to the FHWA rule.

“Our organizations supported investments made in the IIJA,which include programs dedicated to carbon reduction and infrastructure resilience,” groups such as American Trucking Associations, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wrote lawmakers Feb. 6. “However, regulatory overreach outside the bounds of the IIJA has the potential to limit improvements to our infrastructure. Congress debated authorizing the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish a greenhouse gas performance measure, but it was ultimately excluded from the 2021 [IIJA] law, due to the provision’s lack of sufficient congressional support.”

Shailen Bhatt


The FHWA rule, finalized in December, took effect last month. According to FHWA, the rule establishes a method for the measurement and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation. According to background information from the agency, the rule will pave the way for “adding a new greenhouse gas performance-management measure to the existing FHWA national performance measures to establish a national framework to help states track performance and make more informed investment decisions.” Additionally, it will be “creating a flexible system under which state DOTs and MPOs will set their own targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from roadway travel.”

Federal Highway Administration Chief Shailen Bhatt said Nov. 22, “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. 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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