The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed a December 2011 preliminary injunction that prevented the California Air Resources Board (CARB ) from further implementing the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS ). It is unclear why the Ninth Circuit granted the stay, as the decision was unaccompanied by any discussion of the merits of the stay order. All of the district court’s LCFS opinions, including the Ninth Circuit’s April 23, 2012, stay order, can be found at Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, et al. v. Goldstene, No. 1:09-cv-02234-LJOGS A. While the stay of the district court’s order means that CARB can continue implementation and resume enforcement of LCFS , it is uncertain what steps the state can take at this juncture while the stay is in effect.
In issuing the preliminary injunction, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California concluded that the LCFS was unconstitutional under the federal Commerce Clause. LCFS , one of the key components of California’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions law, was intended to diversify the variety of transportation fuels by at least 10 percent by 2020. The district court agreed with opponents that it impermissibly interfered with and discriminated against interstate commerce. Opponents had argued that the LCFS discourages California fuel marketers from relying on corn-based ethanol, the majority of which is grown and manufactured in the Midwest.