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FHA Finalizes Emissions Rule

Beginning early next year, states will be required to monitor and reduce carbon emissions from vehicles on roads built with federal money, thanks to a recently finalized federal rule from the Federal Highway Administration, according to Freight Waves.

What’s going on: “The new rule, which generated close to 40,000 comments after it was formally proposed in a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) last year, requires each state’s department of transportation to establish declining carbon dioxide targets—using fuel sales, fuel efficiency and vehicles-miles-traveled data—and report on their progress.”

  • The rule, which will use 2022 data as a baseline and supports the Biden administration’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, leaves up to each state how low targets are set, “as long as [the numbers] are declining.” 
  • There are no penalties for failure to meet the targets.

Why it’s important: Imposing greenhouse gas emissions targets is beyond the remit of the FHA, and “overall carbon-cutting goals cannot be achieved using the [agency’s] method for tracking carbon emissions,” some states say.

  • “Annually, trucks carry 1.5 billion tons of freight worth $1.2 trillion to, from and within Texas,” the Texas Department of Transportation commented, according to Freight Waves.
  • “For a state like Texas with a growing population, it is not plausible to remove the equivalent of 59.3% of current highway trips, plus the additional future trips from increased population and increased goods movement through 2030.”

The NAM’s take: “As the NAM has said repeatedly, consumers and the industry need regulatory certainty and a more realistic path to reducing vehicle emissions,” said NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Brandon Farris.

  • “This mandate by the Federal Highway Administration only adds to the multiple sets of standards—from the Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the state of California—that are not aligned and could increase the cost of both manufacturing and purchasing vehicles.”
  • “These numerous regulations should be harmonized to create a single unified standard for vehicle emissions, as conflicting guidance raises costs for manufacturers and consumers.”
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