GHG Measure back on, for now

By Alex Beckmann

The Federal Highways Administration announced on Thursday that it will lift the suspension on the rule requiring state departments of transportation to measure on-road greenhouse gas emissions. With the lifting of the suspension, that requirement has gone into effect immediately.  Furthermore, in its notice, FHWA specifically mentions that it has “initiated additional rulemaking procedures proposing to repeal the GHG measure (RIN 2125-AF76) and anticipates publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2017 with a goal of issuing a Final Rule in Spring 2018.”

FHWA anticipates that that rule will be repealed well before the first compliance check in October 2018, so even though the requirement is now in effect, it is likely that the requirement will have no practical effect.

As background, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC),

The Greenhouse Gas Measure was promulgated under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act and would require state departments of transportation to benchmark and measure on-road greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within their jurisdictions, and set locally-appropriate targets for GHG emissions reductions on national highways. MAP-21 requires the Federal Highway Administration to set goals in several performance areas to ensure the most efficient use of federal funds. The goal of the measure is to incentivize use of transportation strategies—such as bus rapid transit and commuter rail—that would reduce GHG emissions.

NRDC, Clean Air Carolina, and US Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG) originally sued the Trump Administration claiming that the delay and suspension of the GHG Measure violated certain requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), which requires that the Federal government give the public and stakeholders a chance to give input on proposed regulations and sufficient time to give that input. With this lifting of the suspension, FHWA is conceding that it did not follow the APA’s requirements and that it now plans to repeal the GHG requirements through a process that complies with the Administrative Procedures Act.

Alex Beckmann is an Outreach Associate at Transportation for America.