A Charlotte group is among advocates that sued a federal transportation agency Monday over the suspension of a new requirement that greenhouse gas emissions from federal highways be reported.
The Federal Highway Administration approved the regulation two days before President Donald Trump took office in January. Trump’s administration, which took office promising to roll back regulations, suspended it indefinitely in May.
Transportation in 2016 became the largest U.S. contributor to carbon dioxide emissions, which are linked to climate change, according to federal data. Motor vehicles are also major sources of pollutants that create ozone, the irritating gas that Charlotte has struggled with for decades.
Charlotte-based Clean Air Carolina, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed Monday, has challenged area road construction projects in court and advocates for public transit, bicycle and pedestrian transportation. It also runs a program, Medical Advocates for Healthy Air, on the health impacts of air pollution and climate change.
“The (greenhouse gas) measure was meant to usher in smarter 21st-century transportation options for our communities,” executive director June Blotnick said in a statement. “It will help put us on the right road to protect our children, and all future generations, from dangerous climate change and unhealthy air.”
The suspended regulation required state transportation departments and local agencies, called metropolitan planning organizations, to track the amount of carbon dioxide that highway vehicles emit. The agencies would also have to set targets to reduce emissions.
The lawsuit asks the federal court to end the suspension of the regulation, arguing that the Trump administration took the action illegally without public notice or comment.
The highway administration, according to the lawsuit, has said federal law doesn’t require notice and comment on suspended regulations. The agency said the suspension was justified to give the new administration more time to review the greenhouse gas regulation, the lawsuit says.
The Federal Highway Administration had no comment Monday on the lawsuit, which was filed in the federal court for the southern district of New York state.
Clean Air Carolina, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, was joined as plaintiffs by two national groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.