This case highlights the complex nature of biofuels policy as competing jurisdictions attempt to impose their own policy priority ordering to the need for energy security, climate change mitigation and rural development. Moreover, this litigation has illuminated some of the underlying structural problems in a federal biofuels policy (RFS) which purports to lay the foundation for significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, but yet does not incorporate standards for the carbon footprint of the non-biofuel (and majority) of the nation’s fuel needs. Aside from the RFS mandated biofuel quantities (36 billion gallons by 2022), gasoline blenders may incorporate any source of petroleum, including high carbon tar sand-derived oil that might offset the carbon savings attached to the biofuels (e.g., ethanol) component of the fuel supply. The solution from a climate change mitigation perspective, therefore, may not just be more biofuels, but rather a holistic approach to the nation’s fuel carbon content, such as a federal low carbon fuel standard. In the interim, stakeholders are watching carefully the ongoing California LCFS litigation, because if California loses, conceivably all state level programs that rely on similar LCA methodologies, including but not limited to LCFSs, would be in jeopardy of Constitutional invalidation. For further information, see Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, et al., v. Goldstene, et al., Case No. 1:09-CV-02234-LJO-DLB (E.D. Cal.).
Source: Jody Endres, Energy Biosciences Institute and A. Bryan Endres, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics