FHWA Reinstates Clean Air Rule for Transportation

Eight states sued the Federal Highway Administration last week and got a rapid response

Which travel mode produces more greenhouse gas emissions? Photo by Michael Sacuskie
Which travel mode produces more greenhouse gas emissions? Photo by Michael Sacuskie

Today, the FHWA responded to a lawsuit brought last summer by the Natural Resources Defense Council, U.S. PIRG, and the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of Clean Air Carolina by reinstating a rule the suit claimed had been illegally suspended by the federal administration. The response came just days after several states and state agencies, including California and the California Air Resources Board, filed a similar suit against the federal government.

The rule, which will be reinstated on Thursday, requires every state DOT and MPO to track greenhouse gas emissions from on-road vehicles on the national highway system. In addition, they must establish targets for reducing greenhouse gas emission by February 20, 2018, and report on that progress. Similar to laws already in effect in California, it requires the states to figure out how much greenhouse gas emissions they are producing and set goals for reducing them.

It’s a first step towards measuring some of the environmental harms of unrestrained highway investments at the expense of other, more environmentally-friendly travel modes.

“Our view is it should have been in effect all along,” said Amanda Eaken of the NRDC. The rules were filed in the Federal Register on January 18 of this year, but the new administration suspended them without holding any hearings. “Those actions were clearly illegal,” said Eaken.

With the notice of reinstatement, the FHWA also announced that it will begin a formal rulemaking process to seek a repeal of the rule. The process, properly conducted, includes requirements for seeking and incorporating public comment, and the groups that filed the original lawsuit plan to play a major part in the rulemaking, and “vigorously oppose any permanent repeal effort.”

“Passing this rule adds the potential, not the certainty, of success” in reducing carbon pollution from vehicles, said Eaken. There is more work to be done to ensure the targets are met, but reinstating the rule allows officials to work with local and state transportation agencies to create transportation plans that take into account carbon emissions, as opposed to ignoring them as many areas do.

The lawsuit’s success was stunningly quick. “It is fantastic to have the opportunity to protect the public interest and defend against these illegal attacks,” said Eaken.

As important and hard fought as this victory is, it’s nowhere near where we need to be. The feds and the states should not just be measuring emissions, but taking immediate action on lowering them–which would require a wholesale move away from a century of highway expansion and towards serious funding for transit, walking, and bicycling.

  • Corvus Corax
  • MV

    Wow…that was sure convincing (NOT).
    I guess you figure you are smarter than anything on the article I was mentioning….and it isn’t worth your time to refute. (OR – you just can’t…which is probably more likely.)

  • Corvus Corax
  • MV

    But either you won’t deign to share your insights as to which statements are lying….or you can’t. It is up to the readers to see that you choose to merely claim ‘ignorant (or outright lying)’ – yet you are unwilling to defend your attack.

  • MV

    I understood your sarcasm quotes completely. BUT – you did indicate you were a believer in the man-made global warming…and seemed upset that everyone wasn’t flocking to support this (your word..’crackpot’ theory. My point was that there is plenty of discussions on the alternate side that tend to get buried….. I wonder if these people (the ‘crackpot alarmists’) are the real DENIERS….rather than those of us YOU would peg as ‘climate deniers’.

    Isn’t the goal to discuss all sides? (AND – it has been the Global Warming Alarmists that try to shutdown debate. It was Michael Mann refusing to release his raw data, his methods of analysis, and his ‘how to hide the decline’ and the plotting with various publications to block dissenting views.)

  • MV

    Gosh…thanks for such wonderful insights. With people like you…everyone looks forward to learning what you have to share.

  • Robert Speir

    “did you show a RECENT computer model that explains the past 2000+ years of climate change – very warm periods, very cold periods?”

    More BS, as the Medieval Warm Period and The Little Ice Age were REGIONAL events, not global.

    There is also evidence that the Medieval Warm Period was human caused, but I won’t go into that, as your head might explode…

  • Corvus Corax

    Sometimes I think I am a bit sarcasm-impaired, so I will upvote you, hoping I am right and you are being sarcastic: I have found your other comments sensible.

  • Corvus Corax

    It’s a pity that you were born without a sarcasm gene. See; that’s what I was meaning when I put those two words in quotes.

    I don’t respond to Gish-Gallops. Deny all you want, but don’t waste my time with it, ok?

  • Corvus Corax

    More ignorant (or outright lying) statements. Links can certainly can be pasted. Maybe you just can’t figure out how to do it, are misunderstanding it much as you do Climate Change.

  • MV

    BTW – I will TRY to provide a link to a 94 page ‘power point presentation’ that goes over the issue of climate change….

    If you wish to get upset with me – take a look at this presentation and point (by page number) – which pages are erroneous and false or ‘BS’ as you call it. There is SOLID SCIENCE here…so if you don’t like it….argue against it – refute it…if you can.

    [EDIT – it appears that links can’t be pasted into the comments.
    GOOGLE the following terms: “climate-skeptic phoenix presentation” ….and the top 2 search results will take you to a PDF of the 94 page presentation. ]

  • MV

    I am sorry….did you show a RECENT computer model that explains the past 2000+ years of climate change – very warm periods, very cold periods? Seems to me a VALID computer model would explain these temperature variations. At present…the temperatures we are experiencing are not warmer than those during the Medieval Warm Period – when Greenland was settled as an agricultural community. Recent glacier retreats have uncovered Viking settlements….telling us that we can have warm periods WITHOUT CO2.

    Please enlighten us with computer models that show the ‘look back’. This is a great way to validate a computer model….to see if it describes KNOWN variations over time.

    AND – I have seen articles that show the predicted temperature increases…and (IIRC) – the vast majority of them OVERSTATED (not understated) the temperature rise…..so the models – starting around 1990 – predict temperatures much warmer than we actually see now in 2017.

    We will all wait to see your revelation of a GOOD computer model that reflects temperature variations over the past 2000 years.

  • Robert Speir

    “Face it – none of the computer models work”

    I’m going to stop your BS right here. The first “models” were created way back in the 19th century (for the low information voter, that is the 1800’s). Those “models” were calculations derived from observation, and were done by hand.

    Interestingly enough. Those “models” were fairly accurate, to what has actually happened in the nearly century and a half since they were created.

    Now our modern computer models have the problem of being to conservative. In other words, they show the problem as being less than reality. This does not bode well for man.

    “It actually would be cheaper to spend money ‘adapting’ to a possible temperature rise – than trying to stop it.”

    First off, no-one is trying to just “stop” anything. This sounds like a talking point without any actual information. Second, tell the people of Miami, Houston, New York, Chesapeake, and Norfolk that adaption is cheaper…

  • MV

    At least you are honest to consider yourself a ‘crackpot alarmist’. Face it – none of the computer models work (all project higher rising temperatures – which haven’t happened. None of the models could be used to explain the MAJOR temperature variations that occurred in the past…like the Medieval Warm Period (where the earth was warmer than it is today), the Roman Warm Period, etc. None of the models can show/explain the cold periods – the “Dark Ages” – or the ‘mini-Ice age’ of the 1600’s – when northern Europe had lots of crop failures because the growing season was too short. YET – alarmists suggest we spend TRILLIONS of dollars on fears that were created based on faulty computer models.

    ALSO – the alarmists don’t look at the benefits of potential warming periods. (Look at how much better life was between the Medieval Warm Period vs. the mini-ice age that followed. More deaths attributed to cold than warm.

    AND – one thing that can be shown as we have increasing CO2 levels…..there is a ‘greening’ of the earth. Plants respond better if the CO2 levels are higher. Many people who grow things in greenhouses will actually ADD CO2 to stimulate growth. More CO2 – means plants are more drought resistant AND need less fertilizer.

    All the Alarmists suggest huge and expensive programs….yet they indicate that if their proposals are followed, it really won’t change the ‘computer model predicted temperature rise’ by even 0.5° C. It actually would be cheaper to spend money ‘adapting’ to a possible temperature rise – than trying to stop it.

  • Harris

    It is more likely that a majority know that technology will fix this alleged issue and see no reason to wear a hairshirt

  • Corvus Corax

    I am feeling that there is a small group of ‘crackpot alarmists’ (myself included) who care about Global Warming, and the majority, rather than think about this, just go out for a drive. This small group, it seems to me, cares more about the children and grandchildren of drivers than drivers do.

    It is very like the big tobacco executive who were perfectly content to sell a poison to their own children so they could live in mansions, drive luxury cars.

  • The feds and the states should not just be measuring emissions, but taking immediate action on lowering them–which would require a wholesale move away from a century of highway expansion and towards serious funding for transit, walking, and bicycling.

    By 2020, it’ll be beyond evident that the GHG argument against highways will be no more.

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