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After Lawsuits, Trump Administration Enables Highway Emissions Tracking Program

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Just days after eight states sued the U.S. Department of Transportation for suspending a program requiring the tracking of greenhouse gas emissions on highways, the Trump administration announced it has agreed to allow the tracking to begin, a department spokesperson confirmed.

In May, the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration announced it had "indefinitely delayed" a program which would have required states to begin tracking greenhouse gas emissions on highways and start target-setting to reduce the heat-trapping carbon pollution.

On Wednesday, California, Iowa, Vermont, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington filed a lawsuit against the department, claiming the federal government's failure to begin tracking carbon emissions on U.S. highways not only violated federal law, but could cause further environmental calamity in their states.

Read Also: Dire Warnings Over Fed's Failure To Track Highway Emissions

The program, known as the Greenhouse Gas Performance Measure, will now go into effect, according to a notice issued by the Federal Highway Administration. The notice was posted Friday, two days after the lawsuit was filed.

The National Resource Defense Council also sued after the department announced that the program, which states must comply with in exchange for billions of dollars in federal funding support, was to be suspended.

Following the reversal, the National Resource Defense Council this week said in a statement, "This action was blatantly against the law ... A new administration can't just willy-nilly decline to follow through."

Greg Dotson, an assistant law professor at the University of Oregon, explained to CBS San Francisco how he sees the change in policy.

"The Department of Transportation realized they had no justification for violating the Administrative Procedures Act," Dotson said. "Faced with states and environmental advocates that were determined to hold them accountable, they reversed their position."

The U.S. Department of Transportation has not now, nor previously, explained why the effort to measure carbon pollution and set goals to reduce it, is objectionable.

"Remarkably, in the notice in which they lifted the indefinite delay, the Department also announced an intention to begin the regulatory process of repealing the greenhouse gas performance measure," Dotson said.

The Greenhouse Gas Performance Measure will be implemented effective this Thursday and the first compliance deadline, of October 2018, remains in effect.

By Hannah Albarazi - Follow her on Twitter: @hannahalbarazi.

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