CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey was one of 20 attorneys general nationwide to file comments pushing back against a new Biden Administration rule requiring the U.S.’s highways to be reduced to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
In a callback to the United States Supreme Court’s recent West Virginia v. EPA ruling, the coalition of attorneys general is arguing that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) was not given the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions by Congress.
Given the Supreme Court recently made clear in West Virginia v. EPA that even the EPA cannot use its existing authority to take unprecedented and unauthorized actions to address climate change, such action is clearly beyond the authority Congress has given FHWA.Comments sent to the U.S. Department of Transportation by a coalition of 20 attorneys general
The ruling determined that under the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution, Congress—not federal administrative agencies which are under the Executive Branch—has the authority to decide the major issues of the day.
The coalition also pointed out that the FHWA issued a similar rule, which was repealed after the agency determined that the measure may duplicate “existing efforts in some States” and imposed “unnecessary burdens on State DOTs and MPOs [Metropolitan planning organization] that were not contemplated by Congress.”
What is net zero?
The term “net-zero” means that any greenhouse gas emissions a system or organization generates “are offset by removing an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and storing it permanently in soil, plants, or materials,” according to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
The United Kingdom has made a similar pledge to get road users to net-zero emissions by 2050 and has pledged to publish different parts of a plan to do that throughout the next several years. First, the nation’s highway system is pledging to reduce its own corporate emissions to net zero by 2030. Its steps to do that include switching 70% of its light systems to LED by 2027 and making its fleet 75% electric or hybrid by 2025.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, in its “Based on Science” publication assessed the claim that it’s not possible for the United States to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 as true.
Its reasoning was that while currently available technologies could allow the country to achieve the goal, it would require rapid and widespread changes in policy and investment across many sectors of society and participation and commitment by government, industry and individuals.
Its analysis also highlighted that nuclear power would be required, as well as wind, solar and water power, to generate electricity without emissions in order to meet that goal.