A federal judge in Fresno, California has blocked a portion of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, which aims to lower the carbon life cycle of fuel entering the state. The judge ruled that the state of California had no right to demand lower carbon life cycles from gasoline, diesel fuel, and biofuels entering the state from out of state companies because of the federal interstate commerce clause. The judge then blocked enforcement of that specific part of California’s AB32 which could have saved the state 16 million metric tons of emissions. The Air Resources Board, however, says that provisions in the EPA’s Clean Air Act allow states to regulate air pollution.
California’s AB32 was the first wide-reaching, truly ambitious comprehensive climate change legislation to be passed in the United States and was the first to look at fuel production as having a life-cycle of carbon emissions — not just emissions that occur from burning it. The state is hoping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and the part of the law that the judge has blocked was to make up for 10% of that reduction. Oil refiners, truckers and ethanol producers where the ones who brought suits against the California Air Resources Board for this provision in the Assembly Bill 32 — officially known as California’s Global Warming Solutions Act.
The law would have said that those California-produced or out of state fuel resources that didn’t come below the state’s new carbon life cycle goals would have to buy credits from other, less polluting companies to make up for their dirty habits. In the wake of the judge’s decision, the fuel refining industry was ecstatic, stating that the ruling would benefit all Californians by keeping their already high fuel costs down. The Air Resource Board however said they’d appeal the decision. Good thing, because this might become quite the chicken and egg situation. The federal government won’t pass a comprehensive climate bill themselves but they also won’t let states pass their own due to the fact that the Constitution says that such a bill is the job of the federal government. A conundrum with massive consequences seems to have just been dropped on the climate change debate.