SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Led by California, eight states sued the U.S. Department of Transportation on Wednesday, challenging the Trump administration’s suspension of the Greenhouse Gas Performance Measure that was to take effect in February.
Upon taking office President Trump’s administration issued a regulatory freeze for federal agencies. The freeze affected the Greenhouse Gas Performance Measure, a regulation intended to decrease greenhouse gas emissions on national highways.
After delaying the measure twice, the Department of Transportation, or DOT suspended it in May. Joined by Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, lead plaintiff California sued the DOT and the Federal Highway Administration for indefinitely delaying the measure without taking public comment and effectively engaging in rulemaking with the delays and suspension.
The measure, which would require states to track, record and set goals for greenhouse gas emissions, was approved in 2015, with support from lawmakers, state departments of transportation and the public.
“In all, nine SDOTs, over 100 cities, 67 members of Congress, more than 100 public interest organizations, and almost 100,000 members of the public submitted comments in support of the measure,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra wrote in the lawsuit.
President Trump has been sued more than 130 times in federal courts since his inauguration. While the lawsuit does not personally name the president, it’s another legal battle for an administration embroiled in fights over its travel ban, funding cuts to sanctuary cities, and a ban on transgender people serving in the military.
At the heart of the lawsuit is climate change and how greenhouse gases affect living conditions. Iowa faces a water quality challenge, with the state suffering from both flooding and drought.
“Iowa is already experiencing the adverse effects of climate change with increased extreme rain events that result in catastrophic flooding, more severe summer droughts that reduce crop yields and livestock productivity, and humid temperatures that are linked to lung and heart problems,” Becerra wrote.
Maryland has seen shoreline erosion and a sea level rise of more than a foot in the past 100 years.
The transportation sector is the largest source of greenhouse gases in the United States, having outpaced emissions from electricity generation since 2014.
Defendants include Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and Federal Highway Administration Deputy Administrator Brandye Hendrickson.
Lead counsel Becerra is assisted by attorneys general from the other states.