US district court rules Low Carbon Fuel Standard unconstitutional

Posted Tuesday, 24 January 2012, 05:53

On December 29th 2011, a federal judge at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California ruled against the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in the case Rocky Mountain Farmers Union v. Goldstene, in which the plaintiffs had argued that California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) was unconstitutionally in breach of the 'Commerce Clause'. The judge found that the LCFS discriminates against sources of ethanol from other US states, in particular due to counting the carbon emissions from transport to California, and due to assigning a lower carbon intensity value to grid electricity in California than in Midwestern states. The judge has applied an injunction on California to prevent further enforcement of the LCFS pending appeal, although this injunction is not anticipated to prevent LCFS reporting and the stakeholder process in general from moving forward.

The ruling is being appealed by CARB, which has also filed for a stay against the injunction. The ruling is summarised in more detail by Georgetown Climate Centre in a birefing available on their website: http://www.georgetownclimate.org/summary-of-the-federal-district-court-s-order-enjoining-california-s-low-carbon-fuel-standard