Federal court strikes down Biden's climate rule for states

'We’re slamming the brakes on the Biden administration’s politics,' Kentucky attorney general says

A federal district court has overturned the Biden administration's climate rule that required states to track and set reduction goals for greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles on highways.

In a sweeping judgment late Monday, Judge Benjamin Beaton of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky ordered the Federal Highway Administration to stand down on the rules, which the agency finalized in November. The ruling represents a major victory for the State of Kentucky, which challenged the regulations alongside 21 other states.

"President Biden’s radical environmental agenda has lost touch with reality, and Kentucky families, farmers and workers are paying the price," Republican state Attorney General Russell Coleman said on Tuesday. "Like all Americans, Kentuckians love our trucks, cars and vans. With this victory in court, we’re slamming the brakes on the Biden administration’s politics that make no sense in the commonwealth."

Kentucky filed the lawsuit in December, one month after the FHWA finalized the regulations. According to the lawsuit, the FHWA overstepped its legal authority in attempting to regulate vehicle emissions since it attempted to force states to implement federal regulations.


President Biden speaking

The regulations targeting highway carbon emissions are part of President Biden's sweeping climate agenda. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Beaton agreed in his ruling, declaring that the regulations exceed the FHWA's statutory authority and are "arbitrary and capricious." Instead of granting plaintiff states' motion for preliminary injunction – which would have blocked the rule during litigation – he granted their motion for summary judgment, vacating the rule immediately.

"If Congress did purport to give the Administrator authority to set state policy, that would raise a different and arguably bigger problem," Beaton wrote in his ruling. "Modern constitutional doctrine allows Congress to demand much from states, but it cannot commandeer or coerce the apparatus of state governments into mere administrative districts of the federal government."

"If the Administrator were allowed to shove national greenhouse-gas policy into the mouths of uncooperative state Departments of Transportation, this would corrupt the separation of sovereigns central to our lasting and vibrant system of federalism," he continued. "Neither the Constitution nor the Administrative Procedure Act authorizes administrative ventriloquism."


Traffic moves along U.S. Highway 75

Traffic moves along U.S. Highway 75 during the morning commute in Dallas, Texas. (Cooper Neill/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

After FHWA finalized the rules on Nov. 22, the agency said the action supports President Biden’s "whole-of-government approach" of reducing carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said at the time that the regulations provide states with the flexibility to set their own climate targets.

But the 22 states that challenged the action in court, in addition to industry groups such as the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, argued the regulations did the opposite, restricting state efforts and mandating they conform with federal efforts

In addition, the ruling Monday comes shortly after a federal court in Texas similarly struck down the regulations. In that case, Texas had filed a lawsuit as the sole plaintiff.

"The Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration remain committed to supporting the Biden-Harris administration’s climate goals of cutting carbon pollution in half by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050," an FHWA spokesperson told Fox News Digital. "We are reviewing the court’s decision and determining next steps."

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