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Rocky Mount Farmers Union v. Goldstene

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20013
Nos. 09-2234, 10-163, (E.D. Cal., 12/29/2011) (O'Neill, J.)

A district court temporarily enjoined California from enforcing its low-carbon fuel standard, promulgated by the state air board to implement provisions of California's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The standard was designed to reduce California's dependence on petroleum and to stimulate the production and use of alternative, low-carbon fuels in the state. Ethanol producers filed suit, arguing that the standard discriminates against out-of-state ethanol producers on its face. The court agreed. Because the standard assigns more favorable carbon intensity values to California corn-derived ethanol than to Midwest corn-derived ethanol, the standard impermissibly discriminates on its face against out-of-state entities. In addition, the standard impermissibly regulates channels of interstate commerce. And although the standard serves a legitimate local purpose, that purpose could be served through other nondiscriminatory means. In addition, the producer's preemption claim raises serious questions as to whether the standard conflicts with CAA §211(o). Because the plaintiffs are likely to succeed at least on the merits of their dormant Commerce Clause claim, and after having considered the public's interest, the balance of equities, and other relevant factors, the court granted the producers' motion for a preliminary injunction.