Setback in Ethanol Case Against California LCFS

Cindy Zimmerman

The ethanol industry has been handed a setback in its case against the California Air Resources Board Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) that was ruled unconstitutional by a judge in December.

From a Growth Energy statement: Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issued an order expediting briefing in the California Air Resources Board’s appeal of a Federal District Court decision invalidating the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). On December 29, 2011, the District Court issued an injunction to prevent CARB’s enforcement of the LCFS, having found the LCFS unconstitutional in its regulation of commerce outside the state and discrimination against fuel produced outside California.

The Court of Appeals also stayed the District Court’s decision and the injunction until the Court of Appeals can fully review the District Court’s December 2011 decision. Briefing will be completed by early summer. The ethanol industry plaintiffs look forward to fully briefing the issues before the Court of Appeals on the expedited schedule that the Court has issued.

While environmental interests, like the Natural Resources Defense Council, are happy about the decision, the ethanol industry is confident the original court ruling will ultimately be upheld.

“The ruling made by Federal District Court Judge Lawrence O’Neill finding the LCFS unconstitutional was based on sound legal precedent and should stand,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “At its core, we believe the LCFS to be unlawfully written and decidedly punitive against ethanol produced in United States but outside the borders of the state of California. We will vigorously defend our position and support the ruling of Judge O’Neill.”

The oil industry is united with corn-ethanol producers on this issue because they believe the mandate is unfairly punitive to out-of-state fuel suppliers.

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