A federal judge has blocked a Biden administration rule that sought to coerce state highway departments into measuring and reducing CO2 emissions on roadways. The lawsuit, which included 20 other states, was led by Kentucky against the Federal Highway Administration.

“This rule is more about posturing and climate change politics than it is a genuine desire to improve the national highway system,” said Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy in a prepared statement. “Thank goodness for this inquisitive judge who saw through the “ipse dixit.” Abiding by this rule would have wasted millions, stolen worktime from public employees with no legitimate outcome for the environment and only harm delivered to industry and transportation.”

Alaska argued in the case that it was in particularly poor position to implement the proposed rule as the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities’ 2,228 miles of the National Highway System, which connect Alaska’s urban areas to each other and to the Arctic oil fields, account for only 0.1% of the country’s vehicle charging stations. The transportation of people and goods over the long distances between communities in Alaska is dependent upon the burning of fossil fuels, which necessarily result in CO2 emissions.

According to the Dunleavy administration, the greenhouse gas reductions required by the proposed rule could “stifle demographic and economic expansion in Alaska.”

“Congress knows how to direct the Secretary of Transportation to measure greenhouse gases from tailpipes,” Said Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor. “They chose not to do it. In fact, they rejected a proposed amendment. This rule exceeds the authority of the Federal Highway Administration and is a direct infringement on our sovereign state because it directs Alaska to undertake an action that appears nowhere in law. And if we don’t do it, the unspoken threat is the loss of our federal highway dollars.”

The U.S. District Court in Kentucky declared the rule arbitrary and capricious, which makes the rule unenforceable in the challenging states. The Kentucky federal judge requested further briefing on additional remedies.

Last week, a U.S. District Court in Texas issued a similar ruling that outright vacated the same rule, stating that Congress would need to explicitly authorize the proposed environmental program to be implemented by state highway departments.

In addition to Alaska and Kentucky, other states that joined the lawsuit include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Read the full decision here.

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Judge backs Alaska, 20 other states, in blocking Biden admin’s highway rule on greenhouse gases

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.