| June 25
June 25 Fuel producers are urging the U.S.
Supreme Court to hear a challenge to California's landmark low
carbon fuel standard, the first of a series of cases seeking to
roll back state renewable energy laws around the country.
The court could decide in the next few days whether to take
up a lawsuit brought by a coalition of ethanol and gasoline
producers trying to overturn a 2009 California rule mandating
cuts to carbon emissions.
The measure, created by an executive order from former
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, calculates emissions throughout
the lifecycle of a fuel by including pollution from production
and transportation as well as ultimate use.
Under the regulation, fuel blenders and distributors must
reduce the "carbon intensity" of their products by up to 10
percent over the next decade or risk being shut out of
California's lucrative vehicle market.
Out-of-state fuel producers claim the standard penalizes
their products by calculating long transportation distances as
part of their overall carbon footprint.
In an effort led by the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union that
grows corn and soybeans for ethanol in western states, the suit
argues California is violating the U.S. Constitution by
interfering with interstate commerce.
After a loss in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, they
hope the Supreme Court will take up the case.
"The California regulation is really cutting into the bottom
line of these companies that are producing the exact same
product" as California fuel manufacturers, said Ilya Shapiro
from the libertarian Cato Institute.
California says the standard is successfully cutting
emissions from cars and helping to combat climate change.
The high court's yes or no decision could have implications
for cases making similar arguments against renewable energy
programs in other states.
In Colorado, a conservative non-profit group called the
Energy & Environment Legal Institute sued to repeal a state law
limiting the sale of electricity from fossil-fuel-fired power
plants by saying it cramped the interstate market for coal.
A federal judge in Colorado dismissed that case in May but
the group is appealing to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of
Another suit brought by North Dakota challenged a Minnesota
law to cut carbon emissions from electricity generation. A
federal court in April found Minnesota's law violated the
Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The decision is also being
The Supreme Court may wait for the outcome of these two
appeals before deciding to take up the California case, said
Jane Montgomery, an environmental lawyer at Schiff Hardin.
In the meantime, the courts will continue to face these
state-by-state disputes in the absence of an overarching federal
rule, said law professor Steven Ferrey from Suffolk University.
Ferrey said 29 states and the District of Columbia have
renewable programs promoting greener energy sources such as
wind and solar.
"States are going to be the primary actors in the near
term," said Ferrey. "As the opinions stand today there is mixed
(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg in New York; Editing by Howard
Goller and Grant McCool)