ATA Joins Suit Challenging California Low-Carbon Fuel Standard

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) joined petroleum refiners and other end-users in a legal challenge to California's recently enacted low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS). The regulation adopted by the California Air Resources Board requires annual reductions in the carbon intensity of gasoline and diesel over the next ten years. The LCFS regulation falls directly upon fuel providers (refiners, importers and blenders of fuel), but will impact end-users because of associated fuel price increases.

The legal challenge is largely based on the Commerce Clause with assertions that the "shuffling" of low-carbon fuel to California and away from other states will significantly burden fuel providers and consumers without any net change in fuel's carbon-intensity on a global scale, resulting in no reduction – and a likely increase – in greenhouse gas emissions.

“The LCFS 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 complaint, filed in United States District Court in California, also challenged the regulatory scheme as discriminating in favor of California-produced fuels by assigning them lower carbon-intensity ratings because of shorter transportation distances to users. Others joining the suit include the Center for North American Energy Security, Consumer Energy Alliance and National Petrochemical and Refiners Association.

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