North Dakota joins 20 states battling Biden emissions mandate

North Dakota joined 20 other states in sending the Biden administration the legal equivalent of a Christmas lump of coal. A lawsuit filed days before Christmas aims to block the administration from implementing a new administrative climate rule clamping down on vehicles’ CO2 emissions. Inforum says the action aims to stop the federal regulation in its tracks before taking effect in early January.

The lawsuit, filed Friday, Dec. 22, in Kentucky’s U.S. District Court, asks a federal judge to block a mandate from the Biden administration. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration will require states to adopt standards to reduce vehicle emissions on interstates and highways.

“This rule is yet another effort by the Biden administration to unconstitutionally and unlawfully use federal administrative agencies to push a climate agenda where Congress has granted no authority to implement such actions,” North Dakota Attorney General Wrigley said in a statement. “We will continue to push back against regulatory overreach by the Department of Transportation, and every other agency in the Federal government engaged in this sort of unlawful conduct.”

Neighboring Iowa, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming have also signed onto the lawsuit, leaving Minnesota as the only nearby state in support of the controversial requirement. 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.14 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.

The emissions rule stems from Biden’s declaration of a “climate crisis” that required a regulatory response from all federal agencies. But the coalition of states argues that’s no legal justification to require their compliance.

“Congress has not given FHWA or USDOT authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Nor can the Agencies compel the states to administer a federal regulatory program or mandate them to further Executive policy wishes absent some other authority to do so—which is lacking as to this rule.”

The feds maintain the states’ emissions targets would not be enforceable at first, but that claim clearly comes with a not-so-veiled threat behind it.

The rule doesn’t set targets, but the Federal Highway Administration will “assess whether state DOTs have made significant progress toward achieving their targets,” according to a federal document that said the rule goes into effect Jan. 8.

“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,” Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt said in a Nov. 22 statement. “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.”

Time’s running out for the federal court to intervene with the emissions mandate set to take effect on January 8.