On June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court declined to take up a challenge from ethanol producers and big oil to California's low-carbon fuel standard in a major win for the state's efforts to address climate change.
More than 20 states and groups -- including the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Renewable Fuels Association and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Association -- had asked the high court to review a federal appeals court ruling rejecting a challenge to California's regulations -- the first of their kind in the country.
The regulations were developed under California's landmark 2006 global warming law, which seeks to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the state to 1990 levels by 2020.
For the transportation sector, the regulations assign all fuels in the state a "carbon intensity" score. It's calculated by taking into the account the life cycle of the fuel's carbon emissions, including where it was produced and refined, and its transportation into the state.
The regulations are expected to cut the carbon content of fuels sold in California by 10 percent by 2020, a reduction of 16 million tons.
Industry, led primarily by out-of-state ethanol producers, challenged the regulations. It claimed that the rules unlawfully discriminated against out-of-state fuel suppliers.
The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the industry's request to block California's forward-thinking “life cycle” analysis of transportation fuels and their greenhouse gas intensity.
Sierra Club Environmental Law Program has played a significant role in defending the rules, working closely with the California Attorney General, and will continue to do so as the district court considers the remaining industry challenges. The court order is one step in the right direction to provide Californians with better, cleaner fuels for their cars and trucks.