California Ethanol Lawsuit Blasted

Cindy Zimmerman

Both the California-based New Fuels Alliance and the LA Times have taken fuel refiner Tesoro to task for suing the state over a regulation that would boost ethanol consumption in the state by 2010.

TesoroThe company, which operates refineries in Los Angeles and the city of Martinez, says “the new fuel specifications could conflict with the state’s push to cut greenhouse gas emissions and could have ramifications for the environment and U.S. food prices.”

New Fuels AllianceThe New Fuels Alliance, a group that includes the California Renewable Fuels Partnership, released a statement calling the suit “a blatant attempt by Tesoro to try to use the regulatory and legal process to gain competitive advantage in the market place. Other oil companies are moving toward increased ethanol use to extend gasoline supply, lower cost, and even increase profits. Tesoro didn’t see this market shift coming and is now trying to gum up the works based on a feigned and disingenuous concern about climate change and food prices.”

The Alliance is calling on the California Air Resource Board to request immediate dismissal of the case.

The LA Times blog GreenSpace points out that the “text of the lawsuit, filed in Sacramento Superior Court, says precious little about Tesoro’s worries over food supply and prices. Rather, the company’s core complaints are that California Air Resources Board’s new rule: takes effect too quickly, forces companies to pay for emissions offsets if they don’t meet the 2010 deadline, and requires expensive refinery modifications that might not be compatible with California’s still-evolving Low Carbon Fuel Standard.”

Reporter Elizabeth Douglass concludes, “The problem for Tesoro and other refiners is that the whole move to biofuels is eating away demand for its products. That might have something to do with the company’s sudden concern about ethanol’s impact on the environment and the nation’s food supply.”

Ethanol, News