Full steam ahead: California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard

California’s 5th District Court of Appeals issued a tentative ruling yesterday in favor of California’s Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) moving forward. The case is POET, LLC v. California Air Resources Board (CARB) and POET, a South Dakota ethanol producer, had alleged that CARB violated the California Environmental Quality Act in adopting the LCFS and should be barred from further implementation.

Recognizing the grave implications of discontinuing the LCFS, including derailing the state’s progress to cut greenhouse gas pollution and produce innovative alternative fuels, EDF took part in an amicus, or “friend of the court,” letter brief in support of CARB that was submitted to the Court.

In their tentative ruling, and at oral arguments in Fresno on May 30th, the court stated that CARB would have to remedy certain procedural issues, but that the LCFS should be able to move forward. While Plaintiffs technically won, this ruling means they were thwarted in their underlying objective of slowing momentum towards a lower carbon and more sustainable transportation fuel system.

This case also showed that the LCFS continues to have wide and broadening support. Organizations as diverse as PG&E, the Sierra Club, EDF, and the National Biodiesel Board have all submitted amicus letters to the court affirming that the LCFS is an important tool for spurring innovation and improving human health and the environment.

As we have written about here, here and here, there is still another case pending in the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals that challenges the LCFS under the US Constitution. But the future looks bright as once again; state environmental policies have successfully weathered a challenge by out-of-state challengers who would rather litigate than innovate. Hopefully now that delays are off the table, POET and similar companies will become part of the solution by moving their profits and human talent away from litigation and towards technological advancements that scale up production of low-carbon fuels, cutting climate pollution, reducing smog, and growing their business.

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