US ethanol groups file lawsuit against California fuel standards

29 December 2009 19:29  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US ethanol trade groups are challenging the constitutionality of California's new low-carbon fuel standards (LCFS), adding the rules  threaten the domestic ethanol industry.

California officials could not be reached for comment on Tuesday regarding the lawsuit filed in federal court by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy. The groups said the LCFS is not based on sound science and is unconstitutional.

Specifically, they cited the 2007 US Energy Independence Security Act, which singles out the importance of domestic ethanol for the US environment, energy security and economy.

The California LCFS, however, runs contrary to that goal by erecting new regulatory obstacles to ethanol and threatening the nationwide domestic ethanol market, the groups said.

“Because congressional policy cannot coexist with California regulation, the latter must give way to the former, the supreme law of the land,” the groups said in a joint statement.

The California LCFS claims that corn-based ethanol provides no environmental benefits compared with gasoline, instead seeking to use low-carbon, second-generation ethanol for the state’s biofuels needs.

In effect, that would close California’s borders to corn ethanol produced by other states, which in turn could change how corn is farmed and ethanol is produced all over the US, the groups said.

“The Commerce Clause specifically forbids state laws that discriminate against out-of-state goods and that regulate out-of-state conduct,” the statement said. “One state cannot dictate policy for all the others.”

The California Air Resources Board did not immediately return a call seeking comment, but on Monday told Washington-based newspaper The Hill that the lawsuit has no merit.

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By: Ben DuBose
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