Monday, October 15, 2012

California greenhouse gas rules face major court test

I guess the laws being just plain stupid isn't quite enough in a court of law.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence O'Neill found the California rules violate the federal commerce clause because they reach across state borders and discriminate against out-of-state businesses, favoring, for example, California corn ethanol over corn ethanol produced in the Midwest. The low carbon standard, the judge warned, "impermissibly treads into the province and powers of our federal government."

In fact, nine states, from Nebraska to Ohio, oppose California in the 9th Circuit, saying its rules "penalize" their ethanol producers.

Environmental groups and California Attorney General Kamala Harris defend the law, saying Congress has given the green light for California to enforce such regulations. And they say California has the right to reject fuels that are produced in a climate-threatening way.

"The kinds of arguments the industry is making, if accepted by the court, would scale back the states' historic role," said Sean Donahue, a lawyer for the Environmental Defense Fund.

The attorney general urged the 9th Circuit to uphold the rules, saying they are "intended to create incentives for low-carbon alternatives to petroleum, not the protectionist purpose of benefiting California-produced fuels."

The fuel industry insists the California regulations go too far. And it argues the strict regulations will hit consumers hard because of the cost of limiting fuel production options.

The rules will contribute to higher prices in California, said Rich Moskowitz, general counsel for the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers association. And he predicts the court case will have broad implications for similar state regulations.
I think states can make whatever laws it wants for the most part.  But obviously, there has to be some intelligence behind them. Something lacking in CA laws.


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