(Updates with Carper statement in fourth paragraph.)
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The Biden administration wants states to track and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions on highways, a move that Republicans say goes against congressional intent and should be rescinded.
The Federal Highway Administration announced a new proposed rule on Thursday that would require state transportation departments and metropolitan regions to set their own targets and report on progress. The infrastructure law (Public Law 117-58) provides $27 billion to help meet those goals, the department said. GOP lawmakers say Congress never gave the department the authority to impose performance measures.
“Unfortunately, this action follows a common theme by both DOT and the administration, which is implementing partisan policy priorities they wish had been included,” Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement.
Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) defended the proposed rule, saying that Congress a decade ago set a goal of making roads and highways more sustainable and directed the department to create a system to measure states’ efforts. That was “an authority the department has rightly used to propose the establishment of greenhouse gas performance measures,” he said in a statement.
The GOP criticism follows backlash from Republicans after FHWA put out guidance that encouraged using infrastructure money to fix highways before expanding existing roads. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said that in both instances, Congress “expressly excluded these authorities” in the infrastructure law.
“This proposed rule needs to be fully rescinded,” said Cramer, the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works panel’s transportation subcommittee. “It is dumb policy.”
The proposed rule, slated for publication in the Federal Register next week, would give “states the flexibility they need to set their own emission reduction targets,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. The department said 24 states and Washington, D.C. are already setting targets.
Climate advocacy groups praised the rule, calling it a step in the right direction to help pull down transportation emissions. The sector generates the largest share of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
To contact the reporter on this story: Lillianna Byington in Washington at email@example.com