Court upholds California’s low carbon fuel standards
September 19, 2013
A federal appellate court ruled Wednesday that California regulators can impose low carbon fuel standards on wholesalers and refineries in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. [LA Times]
AB 32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, requires producers, refiners and importers of gasoline and diesel to reduce the carbon footprint of their fuel by 10 percent over the next decade. The requirement is part of the law’s overall goal of reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
Out-of-state refiners and ethanol companies sued California over AB 32, claiming that the fuel regulations violated the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. The fuel companies argued that the law imposed limits on interstate commerce by creating an unfair burden on out-of-state firms and making them less competitive with in-state producers.
But, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling 2 to 1 to allow California Air Resources Board regulators to begin implementing the law and punishing fuel wholesalers and refineries that do not comply.
“California should be encouraged to continue and to expand its effort to find a workable solution to lower carbon emissions, or to slow their rise,” wrote Judge Ronald Gould. “If no such solution is found, California residents and people worldwide will suffer great harm. We will not at the outset block California from developing the innovative, nondiscriminatory regulation to impede global warming.”