Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, along with 20 other states, initiated a lawsuit on Thursday against the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation, challenging a recently finalized emissions rule. The rule mandates that states and major metropolitan areas establish decreasing emissions targets for vehicles on the road. However, the lawsuit, filed in Kentucky, argues that the federal government lacks the authority to impose such a rule.
The lawsuit contends, “Regulatory action cannot be used in this manner. Just because the president believes that reducing on-road CO2 emissions is key to addressing climate change… does not mean the agencies can compel the states to administer a federal administrative regulatory program absent statutory authority.”
While acknowledging the federal government’s legal authority to regulate certain roadway-related metrics, such as the number of crashes, the lawsuit asserts that greenhouse gases are not included in statute and, therefore, not subject to regulation.
Knudsen’s office further asserts that the rule will disproportionately impact rural states, as residents in these areas rely more on cars than public transportation. Knudsen stated, “This rule is another unlawful and overreaching regulation by the Biden Administration to force the president’s radical green agenda onto Americans regardless of the costs. This one-size-fits-all approach might work for the Washington, D.C. bureaucrats who cooked it up, but it won’t work for Montana.”
The rule itself indicates that it will not dictate specific emission targets but gives the federal government the final authority to determine whether states have made significant progress toward their targets. If the rule is upheld, state transportation departments would be obligated to monitor vehicle emissions based on fuel sales data, with no specified penalties for failing to meet goals or if emissions increase.
According to the Montana Attorney General’s office, this lawsuit marks the 36th filed by Knudsen against the Biden administration since he took office in early 2021.