SACRAMENTO, California — The petroleum and trucking industries Tuesday sued to block California's first-in-the-nation mandate for cleaner, low-carbon fuels.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Fresno by the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association and the American Trucking Associations. It is the third suit filed in the past two months challenging the regulations, adopted by the California Air Resources Board in April.
The groups say regulators violated the federal Commerce Clause by enacting rules that interfere with interstate commerce, favor biofuels produced in California, and do little to reduce the nation's greenhouse gases.
Charles Drevna, president of the petroleum association, said in a statement that the low-carbon fuel standard is an "ineffective tool" for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
He said the more carbon-intensive fuel banned in California would simply be used elsewhere.
Beginning next year, the standard requires petroleum refiners, companies that blend fuel and distributors to gradually increase the cleanliness of the fuel they sell in California.
Air Resources Board chairwoman Mary Nichols issued a statement chastising the groups for challenging a regulation she said would save Californians $11 billion over the next decade. It was adopted by the board two years after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called for it.
"Their actions are shameful. This is a critical tool to help us break our dependence on fossil fuels," Nichols said. "It will protect us from volatile oil prices and provide consumers with cleaner fuels and provide the nation with greater energy security."
The board has said the low-carbon mandate will reduce California's dependence on petroleum by 20 percent and account for one-tenth of the state's goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
The regulation would not mandate specific alternative fuels. Rather, it would assign a so-called carbon-intensity score to various fuels. All gasoline and diesel fuel sold in California must be 10 percent less carbon-intensive by 2020.
The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, the California Dairy Campaign, the Renewable Fuels Associations and other groups in December filed a similar lawsuit in the same court. Their complaint says California's regulation conflicts with the federal Renewable Fuel Standard and will close California's borders to corn ethanol made in other states.
The ethanol company POET LLC, based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, filed a separate lawsuit in Fresno County Superior Court, saying the board failed to follow state environmental laws. Specifically, the lawsuit argues the low-carbon fuel standard will increase air pollution levels and do nothing to combat global warming.
Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at email@example.com.
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