Industry groups challenge Calif. fuel standard

Chris Rizo Feb. 2, 2010, 8:54pm

Mary Nichols

FRESNO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-Industry groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court, seeking to block California's requirement for cleaner burning fuels.

The lawsuit was filed by the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association and the American Trucking Associations in U.S. District court in Fresno, Calif.

The groups are challenging fuel regulations that were adopted by the California Air Resources Board last April, aimed at slashing by 10 percent greenhouse gas emissions from gasoline and diesel sold in the state.

The rule, beginning next year, will require petroleum refiners and fuel distributors to gradually increase the cleanliness of the fuels they sell in the Golden State.

"The low-carbon fuel standard would essentially ban imports to California of fuels derived from unconventional sources such as oil sands from Canada, oil shale from the Western U.S., or domestic coal supplies that can be converted into transportation fuels," said ATA Vice President Rich Moskowitz. "Discouraging these fuels will simply increase costs while failing to prevent their export to and consumption by other nations."

The plaintiffs in the case also say the regulations are unconstitutional because the California Air Resources Boar violated the federal Commerce Clause by enacting rules that interfere with business between states.

In a statement, California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols called the lawsuit "shameful," saying the groups should also be fighting for cleaner-burning fuels.

On the low-carbon fuel standard, Nichols said: "This is a critical tool to help us break our dependence on fossil fuels. It will protect us from volatile oil prices and provide consumers with cleaner fuels and provide the nation with greater energy security."

Nichols is an appointee of Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. She was ARB chairwoman under Gov. Jerry Brown from 1978 to 1983.

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