The Nebraska Corn Board celebrated the end of 2011 with a victory when Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill struck down California's low-carbon fuel standard. Judge O'Neill found the standard unconstitutional by means of violating the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution, says Tim Scheer, farmer from St. Paul and vice chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board.
'This is a great victory for Nebraska's ethanol and corn industries and Nebraska's economy as a whole,' says Scheer. 'This judgment will mean that the largest fuel market in the US will continue to be open to the benefits of corn ethanol produced right here in Nebraska and the Midwest.'
The low-carbon fuel standard that had been in effect since April of last year had the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels by 10% by 2020.
'While this was as admirable goal, it had many flaws, including penalizing Midwest produced corn ethanol in favor of California ethanol. This is what the Judge ultimately struck down in his ruling,' explains Kelly Brunkhorst, director of research for the Nebraska Corn Board.
The judgment also prohibits the enforcement of the low-carbon fuel standard while the litigation or possible appeal is ongoing.
With 25 plants operating and producing nearly 2 billion gallons of ethanol in Nebraska,
California's 15-billion-gallon transportation fuel market was an important destination for Nebraska. 'If we would have been shut out of that key market, it would have been devastating to Nebraska and other Midwest states,' adds Brunkhorst.
The original lawsuit challenging California's low-carbon fuel standard was filed in the Eastern District Court of California by the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Redwood County Minnesota Corn and Soybean Growers, and Penny Newman Grain against the California Air Resources Board in December of 2009. The suit was filed on the basis of conflicting with
federal law, interfering with interstate commerce and discriminating against out-of-state ethanol producers and importers.
The Nebraska Attorney General's office and five other state attorneys general filed an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit. 'The filing of the brief, along with thecollaboration from five other corn ethanol producing states, showed great support in the discrimination we saw in the standard,' says Scheer.