New Biden Rule Requires States To Track CO2 Emissions

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Last week, the Biden administration finalized a new rule requiring states to track greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, despite opposition from “red” states, and road, and bridge builders.

The new rule, which generated nearly 40,000 comments on Freightwaves when it was formally proposed, requires each state’s DOT to establish declining carbon emissions targets using fuel sales, fuel efficiency, and vehicle-miles-traveled data, and report back their progress to the feds. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) established 2022 as the reference year against which results and (one hopes) progress will be measured.

The new FHWA rule builds on the EPA’s updated emission standards for heavy-duty commercial vehicles for the 2027 model year. The updated EPA standard was passed last year and tightens tailpipe NOx limits to a level 80%-plus below the current standard while reducing the particulate matter limit by 50%. The EPA also requires that OEMs extend warranties to 450,000 miles from 100,000 and useful life limits to 650,000 miles from 435,000 miles.

That said, the new FHWA reporting rule does not mandate how low targets must be. Instead, the rule suggests that each state set targets, “that are appropriate for their communities and that work for their respective climate change and other policy priorities, as long as the targets aim to reduce emissions over time.”

It’s a reporting rule, in other words — but one that will, undoubtedly, lead to more sticks than carrots down the road. That’s my take, but one that seems echoed by Texas, one of the states opposing the rule, which contends that meeting the Biden administration’s overall carbon-cutting goals cannot be achieved using the FHWA’s method for tracking carbon emissions.

David Bauer, president of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), which represents transportation construction suppliers and contractors, asserted in comments filed last year that imposing a GHG measurement is beyond FHWA’s authority. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law would not have been bipartisan had it included requirements on states for mitigating the impacts of global climate change,” Bauer said, as if to highlight exactly what’s wrong with the Republican party, circa 2024.

But that’s just me — what do you guys think? Is a mandated reporting rule a step too far, or do we need to know exactly where each of these states stand in terms of their contribution to global greenhouse emissions? Scroll on down to the comments (are they fixed yet? —Ed.) and let us know!

Sources | Images: FHWA, via Freightwaves, CCJ.

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