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California EPA to appeal ruling that blocks low-carbon rules

Judge rules that state's landmark low-carbon fuel rules discriminate against out-of-state ethanol providers because they consider impact of transporting fuel to California.

The California agency responsible for protecting air quality says it will appeal a decision by a court that blocks enforcement of rules designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage alternative fuel technologies.

The Air Resources Board, part of the California Environmental Protection Agency, adopted the landmark Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCSF) last year. The regulation gives producers and refiners until 2020 to reduce the carbon footprint of their fuel by 10 percent.

Ethanol producers complained that the rules favor in-state producers and refiners because they take into consideration the carbon footprint impact of the transportation of, as well as growing and processing of the fuel. Judge Lawrence O'Neill in the Eastern District Court of California in Fresno agreed, and issued a preliminary injunction on yesterday. He ruled that the LCSF violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits state regulation of interstate commerce, according to Reuters.

"We respectfully disagree with the court's decision and will immediately file an appeal," Dave Clegern, a spokesman for the California Air Resources Board, said in a statement sent to CNET today. "The LCFS is an evenhanded standard that encourages the use of cleaner low carbon fuels by regulating fuel-providers in California. It does not discriminate against any fuels on the basis of geography."

The Renewable Fuels Association and trade group Growth Energy, plaintiffs in the case, released a joint statement to Reuters praising the court decision. "With this ruling, it is our hope that the California regulators will come back to the table to work on a thoughtful, fair, and ultimately achievable strategy for improving our environment by incenting the growth and evolution of American renewable fuels."