This was an important change because the ARB the rules as they were essentially said tar sands oil was "cleaner" (had a lower carbon score) than renewable ethanol. Absurd anyway you look at it.
In fact, the ARB has mostly ignored any carbon intensity in oil -- instead only focusing on the carbon intensity of biofuels, including a shaky (at best) theory on land use change put out there by an "environmental" lawyer. Certainly that was a bit carbonated, which is why so many had a problem with it (see links below), and why ethanol groups filed a lawsuit in 2009.
(Of course Big Oil wasn't a fan of ARB's change, but that isn't a surprise since the original rules gave oil a free pass.)
Yet the whole thing may be moot because the lawsuit – filed December 24, 2009 – was answered yesterday by a judge in a Federal District Court in Fresno, California. His conclusion: California's low carbon fuel standard is unconstitutional and in violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
In a joint statement, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen and Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said: "The state of California overreached in creating its low carbon fuel standard by making it unconstitutionally punitive for farmers and ethanol producers outside of the state’s border. With this ruling, it is our hope that the California regulators will come back to the table to work on a thoughtful, fair, and ultimately achievable strategy for improving our environment by incenting the growth and evolution of American renewable fuels."
RFA and Growth Energy filed the lawsuit and asserted that the California low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) violated the Commerce Clause by seeking to regulate farming and ethanol production practices in other states. They said the Commerce Clause specifically forbids state laws that discriminate against out-of-state goods and that regulate out-of-state conduct.
The court found that the LCFS discriminates against out-of-state corn-derived ethanol and impermissibly regulates extraterritorial conduct. As a result, the court issued an injunction. The judge also ruled that the ARB failed to establish that there are no alternative methods to advance its goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming.
The ARB can, of course appeal.
- Data shows Nebraska farmers are growing more on less
- Scientists concerned with California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard
- California fuel regulations will have significant impact on Nebraska’s economy
- Schwarzenegger pumps E85, but is ARB following the science?
- ‘Theory’ on indirect land use change gets weaker
- Distillers grains is a great value in livestock, poultry feed (accounting for DDGS as part of land use/greenhouse gas)