California low carbon fuel law blocked by federal judge

Ow, that’s gotta hurt. CA’s 2006 Global Warming law – denied.

Federal judge blocks California low-carbon fuels rule

Chico Enterprise Record

FRESNO — A federal judge moved today to block California from enforcing its first-in-the-nation mandate for cleaner, low-carbon fuels, saying the rules favor biofuels produced in the state.

The lawsuit challenging the state regulations, which were adopted as part of the state’s landmark 2006 global warming law, was filed in federal court last year by a coalition including the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association and the Consumer Energy Alliance.

Fresno-based U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence O’Neill’s written ruling Thursday said the low-carbon fuel rules violated the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause by discriminating against crude oil and biofuels producers located outside California.

Out-of-state fuels producers hailed the decision as a win for California drivers.

Full story at Chico Enterprise Record

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51 Responses to California low carbon fuel law blocked by federal judge

  1. David Davidovics says:

    Can’t wait to see all the heads exploding in the MSM. Big oil won, that’s all most people will see.

  2. Eric says:

    Hopefully this will actually mean something for California drivers… i.e. lower gas prices, lower energy costs, etc..

    Though somehow after living here for the better part of 31 years I have a feeling that it wont mean squat..

  3. Thank you Judge O’Neill – California needs all the help it can get! Jerry Brown, California’s senile governor, and the California Air Resources Board have been actively conspiring to turn the state into their view of a green/socialist paradise, with the general public living in concentrated urban centers where everybody will walk or bike to work, and where only the wealthy will be able to afford to have single-family dwellings in the suburbs or in the country. And since Brown and his cronies have been driving businesses out of the state, the only wealthy people left will be leftists: Hollywood types, union bosses, government workers, and politicians.

  4. Kaboom says:

    Damn those activist judges .. or some such

  5. Pasqetty says:

    While there is plenty of fossil fuel to go around and untold millions of human beings going hungry, burning food in cars seems to me to be inescapably unjust.

  6. Leon Brozyna says:

    9th Circuit will probably overturn and it’ll end up with SCOTUS.

  7. danj says:

    Yes, that decision has a half life of about 10 seconds in the 9th Circuit…

  8. u.k.(us) says:

    What a shame.
    The judge determined that, try as they might, California is not entitled to have their own pity party.

  9. Expect a short-lived victory:

    “…The board plans to ask a judge to stay the ruling, and appeal if necessary to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, spokesman Dave Clegern said today…”

    Appealing to the 9th Circuit Court pretty much assures the law will go through.

    Although, the next step up, a SCOTUS appeal might kill it for good.

    From this year:

    “…July 18, 2011

    U.S. Supreme Court again rejects most decisions by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

    Judges in the circuit’s nine Western states are more liberal than the high court justices, who reversed or vacated 19 of the 26 decisions they examined for the last term…”

    From 2009:

    “…June 29, 2009

    U.S. Supreme Court looks over 9th Circuit’s shoulder

    This term, justices reversed, at least partially, 94% of the Western appeals court’s rulings. Part of the reason, experts say, is the court is perceived as liberal and partial to the underdog…”

    So if the state wants this to go through, THEY’LL appeal.

    Look for that to be announced before the SCOTUS starts it’s new term.

  10. Bob Diaz says:

    Nice to know that at least ONE person in power in California has a working brain!!!

  11. D. W. Schnare says:

    This Commerce Clause argument is identical to the one zwhich we (American Tradition Institute) are using in Colorado to shut down that state’s renewable energy mandate. It is a very strong argument and I predict even the Ninth Circuit will have to affirm it. This is one of those extremely rare cases where the Commerce Clause works for the people.

  12. RHS says:

    That is kind of a liberal interpretation of the law from the Judge, but hey, it is a liberal state!

  13. jorgekafkazar says:

    Go eat your tana leaves, Jerry Brown.

  14. aeroguy48 says:

    The enviro-wacky californicators created this law they should be allowed to wallow in their stupidity, and not let the feds bail them out. The only way this liberal folly will be done with for good is for it to collapse on itself.

  15. kbray in california says:

    If the “low carbon people” seriously believe that CARBON is killing the planet, then they need to get strict and mandate “NO CARBON” fuels for vehicles like…. hydrogen(ok), windpower(good luck), solar(not practical), compressed air(oops, has carbon). However, the process of manufacturing product or components of any of those alternatives involves CARBON !
    You “low carbon people” have really got CARBON for BRAINS ! (yes you do.)
    Carbon is not the problem, you “low carbon people” are.
    Ignore carbon and control the real chemical pollutants instead.
    We’ll all be better off.

  16. Doug Danhoff says:

    The most efficient pacaging of solar energy is fossil fuel. It is natures gift, and only those who loath humanity speak against it. Look, we have a wonderful world and it’s not mans fault.

  17. D. King says:

    jorgekafkazar says:
    December 29, 2011 at 7:31 pm
    Go eat your tana leaves, Jerry Brown.

    Tana leaves? I had to look that one up. Verry funny!

    “Three tana leaves to keep him alive, nine to give him movement.”

    http://kestifer.blogspot.com/2011/10/three-tana-leaves-to-keep-him-alive.html\

    LMAO!

  18. Steve Allen says:

    Anthony Watts says; “Ow, that’s gotta hurt. CA’s 2006 Global Warming law – denied.”

    I really like the term “denied” here. It conveys a sense of abrogation, and in this context, simultaneously restores some faith in America’s jurisprudence. Great choice of words Anthony!

  19. Kum Dollison says:

    The Big Losers are Brazilian Ethanol Producers. The Big Winners are American Ethanol Producers. The Small Winners are California Drivers.

  20. ChE says:

    This is going to be hilarious.

    The usual suspects: “this is an overly expansive reading of the commerce clause”.

  21. E.M.Smith says:

    And folks wonder why I’m hanging on to my 30 year old Mercedes Diesels. They are a particularly robust vehicle when it comes to “odd fuels” and can even consume vegetable oil if you ‘thin it’ out a bit with something like gasoline or other thin solvent (or buy special injectors or add a fuel heater).

    They just LOVE to run on transmission oil (so a 1 micron filter and being friends with a mechanic who services transmissions is a ‘win win’ as his ‘toxic waste fees’ drop… ) and they do pretty well on a variety of other odd fuels (that cause the modern finicky computer controlled diesels to buck, vomit, and die…).

    At some point I fully expect our Loons in California to ban Diesel and Gasoline entirely. I’ll just keep on going… ( I also likes stoddard solvent if you thicken it with a bit of added motor oil… and thinks Jet-A and Lamp Oil aka Kerosene is just dandy…)

    Any of the old Diesels with a Bosche type injector pump and a “precombustion chamber” are like that, including the Nissan and Pugeot of the era – 1980s).

    Yeah, I’d rather drive something newer, but since I can’t trust my Government, well, you do what you must…

    Basically, my fuel cost and availability is limited only to the extent that cooking oil and kerosene are limited. As the present crop of jets will NOT be re-engined any time inside my remaining lifetime, I’m pretty much set. Jerry and the Dimocrats can do whatever they want…

    So watching them play with the fuel laws (and crash and burn repeatedly) has been a source of amusement for some time out here. At one time, back about 1985, they were pushing a Methanol Flex Fuel mandate. Had methanol gas stations spread around and The Big Three plus VW all sold “3 way flex fuel” vehicles here ( I test drove and wanted one…). But they so bollixed up the fuel sales as to kill it. You could ONLY buy methanol with a ‘special’ state issued ‘charge card’ and only at state approved locations with them tracking every buy. So naturally folks stayed away in droves… After about a decade of slow festering it finally died a suffering death.

    Then we had the MTBE Mandate. Well, after pretty well crapping up the ground water everywhere, and having most gas stations put through 3 (or more…) mandated updates of their tanks to Yet Another Mandated Approved Design, that failed again… at about $1 Million per station… and driving most remote location gas stations out of business via that cost… they decided maybe MTBE wasn’t such a good idea after all…

    So I’m sure they are all thinking “This Time FOR SURE!!!”…

    While I’m just thinking “Watch This Space”….

    And THAT is why I drive an old car that lets ME decide what to feed it, is as omnivorous as a goat, and where the main “alternative fuels” are unlikely to be subject to banning… Jet-A and cooking oil not having a lot of alternatives… (And even if they did, sliding a guy with an out of state 18 Wheeler a extra $20 over the fuel costs for a small siphon off his tank would not be hard to arrange… )

    So let the California Government Follies continue… we learned how to cope some time ago…

  22. There’s that pesky little constitutional Commerce Clause monkey wrench again. Good job, judge! Long live the Republic!!!

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  23. Jake says:

    What was this judge’s reasoning regarding the commerce clause? Is the idea that since the federal government has the right to regulate interstate commerce, the states do not?

  24. Bruce Hall says:

    My wife has put me on a low carb diet… but I’m not sure that’s the same thing. Can cars run on steaks?

  25. TheGoodLocust says:

    Perhaps Mann needs to find an investigative journalist to discredit this judge and expose his unexplored connections to the fossil fuel industry.

  26. Mervyn says:

    The decision is not a victory for ‘big oil’ or even a victory for common sense. It is simply a decision by Fresno-based U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence O’Neill who has applied the law.

    Judge Lawrence O’Neill has simply done his job… expertly and professionally… without fear or favour. And thank God for that!

  27. Hoser says:

    Pasqetty says:
    December 29, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Without a doubt you are right. And you will proudly advance the proletariat in the next “Great Leap Forward” by moving to a collective farm where you will grow food for yourself and your comrades.

  28. Antonia says:

    Doug Danhoff says:
    “The most efficient pac[k]aging of solar energy is fossil fuel. It is natures gift”. What a beautiful idea. So how wicked of the warmists to demonize coal which has delivered prosperity to so many people.

    In Australia the idiotic Greens actually want to shut down coal-fired power stations, even though Australia has centuries worth of high quality black coal.

  29. John Marshall says:

    Sounds like some common sense peeking over the battlements. Let’s hope it prevails.

  30. Leon Brozyna says:

    While this represents a moment of good news, the news out of the UK is not so good for consumers. as those who suckle on the govt teats have, for the moment, beat back an attempt to cut subsidies to users of solar … see:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/12/30/solar_court/

  31. Ric Werme says:

    Random question – how did California manage to pass its “California Emissions” law on new in state vehicle sales several decades ago? That seems to me to run afoul of the interstate commerce clause too. Did auto manufacturers just figure Californians would still buy cars, that perhaps Detroit could get a jump on the imports for a while, and therefore didn’t fight the law? Or perhaps they figured the California standard would become nationwide and that California would be a decent testbed.

  32. henrychance says:

    I can see the steam vents coming from EnRomm.

    alGore desired a carbon free world and offered a target date. There is no way to build wind turbines without burning massive amounts of coal and petrol in building the towers. All this ideology will never work out in reality.

    Just remember, most Californians don’t understand carbon. Organic food means carbon based. Next up inorganic diet? Also these greenies voted for Nanny Pelosi who stated natural Gas is NOT a fossil fuel.

  33. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:

    A federal judge moved today to block California from enforcing its first-in-the-nation mandate for cleaner, low-carbon fuels, saying the rules favor biofuels produced in the state.

    We, the members of the Illinois corn cartel, applaud this wise judicial move. We grow corn, not jobs!

  34. John K. Sutherland says:

    It is time to recall that Jerry Brown’s monicker, some decades ago, was Jerry ‘Medfly’ Brown’out’.

  35. SOYLENT GREEN says:

    The original intent of the Commerce Claus applied. I’m stunned.

  36. Joseph Murphy says:

    [quote]Jake says:
    December 29, 2011 at 9:33 pm
    What was this judge’s reasoning regarding the commerce clause? Is the idea that since the federal government has the right to regulate interstate commerce, the states do not?[/quote]

    That is the usual interpretation. The clause came about due to states regulating interstate commerce for their own benefit.

  37. More Soylent Green! says:

    Bruce Hall says:
    December 29, 2011 at 9:47 pm
    My wife has put me on a low carb diet… but I’m not sure that’s the same thing. Can cars run on steaks?

    Cows eat grain and grass, right? Steaks and fossil fuels are both forms of concentrated biomass energy.

    ~More Soylent Green!

  38. kakatoa says:

    E. M. Smith says…. “At some point I fully expect our Loons in California to ban Diesel and Gasoline entirely.”

    They even have data to justify taking your and my older Diesel MB off the road: From the 2010 CARB timeline- http://www.arb.ca.gov/html/brochure/history.htm

    “Based on a new U.S. EPA methodology, ARB determines that 9,000 people die annually due to the amount of fine particle pollution in California’s air. The new methodology established that fine PM has a causal link to premature mortality.”

    Back in 1998 “ARB identified diesel particulate emissions a a toxic air contaminant.”

    The start of the process to make it harder to have an older diesel was put in place was last year. Diesels manufactured in 1998 and after are now included in the biannual smog check evaluations.

    I have very bad memories of MTBE.

    1) My mileage (miles per gallon of fuel) went down something like 10% with the MTBE blends and my cost for a gallon of fuel went up 10 to 20%. Given that I had to run 10% more fuel through my engine the stated benefit of reducing pollution was offset my by using more fuel to travel the same distance.
    2) My fuel line seals in my older vehicle started breaking down. No fire in my vehicle as I caught the unintended consequence of MTBE before the leak caused a major problem. Others weren’t so lucky. “MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) was supposed to help clear air pollution by making gasoline burn cleaner. But as the I-Team showed you in the mid-90s, it ate away rubber fuel lines in cars, leading to fires and recalls. But, MTBE was not banned until the suspected carcinogen started showing up in drinking water.
    “It is simply unacceptable to clean the air by polluting our groundwater,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in 1999.” http://www.cacoastkeeper.org/news/years-later-mtbe-still-a-danger-to-water-supply

  39. Dean Robb says:

    Interesting side note:

    “Today, we look at the ruling’s impact.

    Over the past several months, the Digest and other media noted that California was importing ethanol from Brazil, a 6000 mile, diesel-churning tanker haul.

    Now, before the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard was put into place, California would have sourced its ethanol needs from, say, Nebraska, some 1200 miles to the east.

    The 6000-mile trek was justified, said the authors of the low-carbon standard, on the basis that Brazilian ethanol was produced with a much lower carbon intensity than the aforementioned Nebraskan ethanol.

    So, what was happening to the offending gallons from the Nebraska? Were they no longer produced at all?

    Actually, they were being exported via a 6000 mile, diesel-sucking tanker haul to Brazil, to make up for the shortfall in the Brazilian market.

    Same ethanol molecule, same emissions when burned.

    12,000 miles of hauling, instead of 2,400, to burn the same tankfuls of molecules. All in the name of reducing carbon emissions.”- http://biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2011/12/30/us-federal-court-issues-injunction-against-california-low-carbon-fuel-standard/

    So who is really making the money here? Years ago when Oil prices were regulated by the government they found that domestic produced oil had to be sold at a set by the government price, but imported oil was at market value……. so to get around the regulation the domestic oil on paper was exported then an equal amount crude oil was then imported at market value all the time the oil never left the storage tanks. So the question becomes did the tax payer subsidized bio fuel actually leave the country?

  40. Tom Davidson says:

    Presumably in the judge’s written ruling he has declared *why* the law is unconstitutional. In order to reverse that ruling the 9th Circus Court will have to *prove* why the law is *not* unconstitutional. As any mathematician or physical scientist can attest, proving something is *not* such-and-such is a far more difficult task.

  41. _Jim says:

    E.M.Smith says on December 29, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    And folks wonder why I’m hanging on to my 30 year old Mercedes Diesels. They are a particularly robust vehicle when it comes to “odd fuels” and can even consume vegetable oil if you ‘thin it’ out a bit …

    ’81 – ’85 Mercs here run on straight veggio oil (properly filtered, allowing solids to settle out, etc) during warmers months of June, July, August into Sept. in Texas … blended with diesel Oct. into Nov. when by the end of that month its back to straight diesel for the cold winter weather ’til it warms back up in March …

    ’81 300TD (a ‘wagon’ with a 3-liter, turbocharged inline 5-cylinder engine for those not familiar) driver here more on account of its nonexistent EMI/RFI signature (makes working 160 meters thru UHF a dream sans the usual ‘spark’ ignition noise most ops have to put up with on a gasoline car) on account of the mechanical fuel injection system.

    .

  42. Pat says:

    And this is a State that already cannot provide for its energy needs, the highest in the nation, in any category.
    It could. But it chooses not to.

  43. King of Cool says:

    This will certainly affect a further decline of US Toyota Prius sales despite the Green hype and the Toyota promotion:

    US Toyota Prius Sales

    2007 – 181,200
    2008 – 158,600
    2009 – 139,700
    2010 – 140,900 (Thro’ Sept – 103,300)
    2011 Thro’ Sept – 93,000.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Prius

    http://business.financialpost.com/2011/11/18/toyota-expects-prius-sales-to-jump-as-oil-prices-climb/

    As well as gas prices, no doubt Prius Sales are affected by many other factors such as by belief in AGW (perhaps they match global temperature) so 2012 sales should be worth watching.

  44. LazyTeenager says:

    Out-of-state fuels producers hailed the decision as a win for California drivers.
    ———-
    Yeah sure. What’s the likelihood that they would publically hail the decision as a win for themselves. Even though that would be the honest response.

  45. Chris Nelli says:

    Mexico, South America, Europe, and most of Asia (China, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, etc.) use MTBE with no problems. It is a growing market now, years after California banned it. Japan uses ETBE, which is very similar to MTBE. The US and Brazil are essentially the only places where it is not used, due to abundance of ethanol as means to add oxygen to fuel. Also, it would have helped to implement the underground storage tank regulations BEFORE introducing MTBE into the gas pool, like every other nation did. It has been proven that adding oxygen in the fuel reduces air pollution (CO, VOC, etc.). So, the oxygen has to come from somewhere. Also, MTBE is a great way to get methanol (from natural gas production) into the gas pool (key molecule of MTBE). MTBE is 10 times the blend component as ethanol for many reasons (vapor pressure, can be pipelined, etc.).

    Finally, for you California nuts, MTBE is not a proven carcinogen, but Ethanol is. Somehow it is okay to put ethanol in the gas pool, but not MTBE.

  46. R. Shearer says:

    Oxygenates used to reduce CO when a significant fraction of the automobile fleet lacked modern emission controls. Today they only reduce mileage. Energenically, it is better to get the oxygen from air rather than the fuel..

    VOCs are largely due to vapor pressure and a properly formulated hydrocarbon fuel is just as good as that containing MTBE.

  47. kcrucible says:

    “What was this judge’s reasoning regarding the commerce clause? Is the idea that since the federal government has the right to regulate interstate commerce, the states do not?”

    – To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

    If any state can dictate the terms of commerce with another state, then the federal government isn’t regulating it at all…. the state has siezed that power for itself. While CA might not have banned energy importation from TX, it’s the same principle that’s being laid out.

    – The significance of the Commerce Clause is described in the Supreme Court’s opinion in Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1 (2005):[3][4]

    – “The Commerce Clause emerged as the Framers’ response to the central problem giving rise to the Constitution itself: the absence of any federal commerce power under the Articles of Confederation. For the first century of our history, the primary use of the Clause was to preclude the kind of discriminatory state legislation that had once been permissible. Then, in response to rapid industrial development and an increasingly interdependent national economy, Congress “ushered in a new era of federal regulation under the commerce power,” beginning with the enactment of the Interstate Commerce Act in 1887 and the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890.

    When you combine that with the 14th ammendment….

    – No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;

    A fuel station owner is being prohibited from his choice of vendors due to a state law. The citizens of california are prohibited from equal access to markets, etc. Interstate commerce without undo barriers is a privilege of the citizens of the United States.

    Note that I haven’t read the judges actual ruling, but this is how I see it.

  48. kcrucible says:

    “Random question – how did California manage to pass its “California Emissions” law on new in state vehicle sales several decades ago? That seems to me to run afoul of the interstate commerce clause too. Did auto manufacturers just figure Californians would still buy cars, that perhaps Detroit could get a jump on the imports for a while, and therefore didn’t fight the law?”

    There’s a difference… California passed a law which made it illegal for people to buy vehicles which didn’t conform to a certain specification. Car manufacturers in detroit, Japan, Korea, etc, can build cars according to those specifications and sell the cars to Californians.

    In this case, it appears that the law says that Biofuels from Iowa are not being treated the same as Biofuels from California, EVEN WHEN THEY’RE IDENTICAL PRODUCTS. That’s why the judge struck it down. If california had just favored biofuels over fossil, they’d probably be ok legally (it’s stupid, but probably legal.)

  49. Richard S Courtney says:

    LazyTeenager:

    Regular readers of this blog know you are unaware of what honesty is and, therefore, your comment at December 30, 2011 at 3:19 pm has no meaning and no value.

    Richard

  50. CodeTech says:

    R. Shearer says:

    Oxygenates used to reduce CO when a significant fraction of the automobile fleet lacked modern emission controls. Today they only reduce mileage. Energenically, it is better to get the oxygen from air rather than the fuel.

    I disagree with this assertion.

    I had tuned my last car to properly use Ethanol blended fuel. I was easily able to exceed 40MPG on the highway, often approaching 45. It was also capable of 12-second quarter mile times (I love turbos…)

    My current car, which I cannot tune (stupid security crap all over the engine controller) is lucky to hit 25MPG on the highway with factory tuning.

    I’d say your assertion is missing a few words, to wit: “With today’s poor engine controller firmware and incorrect fueling calculations, oxygenates in fuel reduce mileage, in spite of the potential for the opposite.”

    By the way, my last car was a 2800lb 1987 Daytona Shelby Z, with a completely reprogrammed ECM. My current car is almost structurally identical, a 3200lb 2008 Caliber SRT4. The slight difference in displacement, mass, and frontal area does not account for the dramatic decrease in mileage.

  51. pk says:

    CODE TECH:

    did you notice any elevation in operating temperature on the “87″ ????

    C

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