Idaho Attorney General Ral Labrador, in partnership with Kentucky and 19 other states, has filed a lawsuit challenging a recent Biden Administration rule requiring greenhouse emission reductions for states receiving FHWA monies.
The action, filed today in the United States District Court for the District of Kentucky, claims that the United States Department of Transportation lacks the jurisdiction to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and accuses FHWA of exceeding its mandate. The complaint claims that the Biden Administration’s action violated the Constitution and infringed on state sovereignty.
According to the complaint, “the Constitution is also clear that state action cannot be mandated through federal action such as the Final Rule.”
Because “the Constitution protects us from our own best intentions: It divides power among sovereigns and among branches of government precisely so that we may resist the temptation to concentrate power in one location as an expedient solution to the crisis of the day,” the Federal Government may not compel the States to enact or administer a federal regulatory program.
Attorney General Ral Labrador underlined Idaho’s rapid development and significant investment in key infrastructure, with the Idaho Department of Transportation undertaking over 700 projects to expand or improve the national highway system.
“Idaho citizens and businesses rely on effective and efficient surface transportation,” Labrador said. It is absurd for the federal government to require a reduction in car miles driven. The Constitution makes it plain that states cannot be coerced to obey the policy whims of the federal government.”
Idaho, like other state Departments of Transportation, gets FHWA money, which subjects it to a variety of restrictions, including the disputed Final Rule. The state seeks the authority to continue making decisions that maximize the advantages of its highway investments without being subjected to what it views to be unconstitutional regulations as a result of the Final Rule.
According to the lawsuit, such requirements would impose costs and limit the state’s options in implementing its federally aided roadway program. The judicial battle highlights the ongoing argument about the balance of authority in environmental legislation between the federal government and states.