North Dakota helps quash Biden emissions mandate in courts and Congress

Legal and legislative action backed by North Dakota elected officials has resulted in blocking a rogue Biden administration climate change rule on states in both the federal courts and Congress. In December North Dakota joined 20 states in challenging the Federal Highway Administration rule requiring states to track greenhouse emissions without authorization from Congress, which explicitly rejected the mandate in the 2021 Infrastructure and Jobs Act.

As American Experiment wrote at the time:

The section of the legal filing on North Dakota summed up the unpopular rule’s effect as follows. “Within the State of North Dakota, there are over 3,600 center-line miles of National Highway System. The North Dakota Department of Transportation (“NDDOT”), like other State DOTs, receives funding from the Federal Highway Administration which subjects NDDOT to numerous regulations, including the Final Rule challenged in this lawsuit. As a relatively rural State with many industries that utilize heavy equipment, and which frequently experiences severe winter conditions, the Final Rule’s unlawful mandate to reduce vehicular CO2 emissions will negatively impact the State’s economy and the well-being of its residents.”

Two federal courts struck down the highway administration’s regulatory overreach earlier this month. North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley noted in a news release that the mandate would have “hit rural states particularly hard.”

If the Federal Highway Administration’s rule had not been struck down, it would have required states to set arbitrary targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from on-road sources. But as the states successfully argued, and the Court held, the FHA acted improperly because Congress has not provided the FHA the statutory authority to implement these kinds of policies, and because FHA’s attempt to regulate in this instance was arbitrary and capricious.

“This case is another example of the Biden Administration ignoring the clear limitations on its authority in an attempt to implement an activist agenda that our Congress has declined to enact,” Wrigley said.

At the same time, Senator Kevin Cramer targeted the emissions mandate under the Congressional Review Act that empowers Congress to scrap administrative rules. Cramer’s resolution attracted the support of four Democrat senators, along with all Republicans, sending the rare bipartisan measure to the GOP-controlled House for expected approval.

“The Federal Highway Administration provided a very novel rationale,” Sen. Cramer said on the Senate floor. “They argued that since Congress was aware of their plans to promulgate this rule, and did not explicitly bar it, ‘Congress intended to leave such determinations to agency expertise to be handled via regulatory authority.’ That’s not just arrogance, that is arrogance on steroids.”

Despite the apparent victory in this case, however, outgoing Gov. Doug Burgum has warned state legislators to brace themselves for more legal challenges in the event of a second Biden term.