California to appeal ruling against fuel standard

States considering a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) will be watching the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to see if it will overturn a lower court’s decision that California’s LCFS is unconstitutional.

The appellate court has set an April 16 deadline for the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to file its opening brief after the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California court refused to suspend judgments and a preliminary injunction Jan. 23 against CARB enforcing the standard.

“In the absence of a stay, fuel producers that have invested in lower carbon fuels are unable to recoup those investments,” the board said of the lower court’s decision.

Two years ago, the American Trucking Associations, refiners and fuel production companies filed suit against the board’s LCFS, which began last year and had been set to become significantly stricter in January.

On Dec. 29, U.S. District Judge Lawrence O’Neill ruled the state’s LCFS violated the Constitution’s Commerce Clause by discriminating against out-of-state sources of ethanol and crude oil. In response to a 2006 state law, the board adopted LCFS three years later to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels 10 percent by 2020.

Several West Coast and New England states that considered adopting California’s standard in recent years appear to be holding off on implementation.

Jill Dunn is a contributing editor to Randall-Reilly Publishing Co., parent company of Aggregates Manager, Better Roads and Equipment World magazines.