ACT News 2017


LCFS, for Most Part, Survives Challenge

April 21, 2017 in Biofuels, litigation by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Court Orders CARB to Address Analytical Deficiencies,
Meanwhile the Program Continues for Most Clean Fuels

LCFS, California’s complicated low carbon fuel standard, has survived mostly intact the latest court ruling in favor of the plaintiff, South Dakota-based ethanol producer Poet, LLC, in an ongoing legal challenge. Once again, the court is requiring the California Air Resources Board to address deficiencies in its environmental analysis. But industry observers are pleased that the court has allowed the bulk of LCFS implementation to continue in the interim.

The bottom line for alt fuel suppliers? They can continue to earn their credits, at least for now.

Poet, LLC biorefinery for cellulosic ethanol in Emmetsburg, Iowa

The LCFS requires fuel providers to gradually reduce the CI/carbon intensity of their fuels by 10% by 2020. It is one of California’s suite of greenhouse gas-fighting policies.

‘The LCFS Has Spurred Innovation’

Since its adoption, the LCFS has spurred innovation and investment in renewable natural gas, biogas, biodiesel, ethanol, and electricity to power both heavy-duty and light-duty vehicles.

Through the third quarter of 2016, according to CARB data, the LCFS has delivered roughly 23 million metric tons of carbon reductions,.

The legal battle dates back to 2011, when the LCFS first went into effect. Poet claimed CARB improperly followed procedures of CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act, when it first adopted the rule in 2009. This case is known in legal circles as Poet I.

Changing Baselines

After several rounds of legal review, and to remedy the claim, CARB re-adopted the LCFS in 2015 along with the separate, related Alternative Diesel Fuels regulation. A lower court accepted CARB’s remedy and dismissed the case, but Poet appealed, claiming CARB used the wrong baseline for considering NOx impacts associated with increased biodiesel consumption as a result of the regulation. When CARB re-adopted the regulation, it chose a 2014 baseline, instead of the original 2009 baseline.

The latest decision on April 10 from the California Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District directs CARB to redo its CEQA analysis – again – to address whether the LCFS “is likely to have caused an increase in NOx emissions in the past and is likely to cause an increase in NOx emissions in the future.”

Diesel Frozen 

The court left unchanged provisions of the gasoline component of the LCFS, but froze the diesel component to 2017 levels until CARB can present its fix. That means, CI levels of gasoline will continue to ratchet down each year on the schedule established when CARB re-adopted the rule in 2015, while diesel CI reductions are frozen at 2017 levels until the case is resolved.

In a prepared statement, CARB responded: “We are pleased that the Court left the core provisions of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard intact, along with all of the Alternative Diesel Fuels regulation, recognizing their overall environmental benefits. Although we disagree with some aspects of the opinion, which we are still reviewing, CARB anticipates acting expeditiously to address the court’s ruling, and to move forward as appropriate with these important programs.”

‘The Court Did Not Close the Door to Biodiesel’

In its response to the decision, the National Biodiesel Board released the following statement: “While we continue to review and do not necessarily agree with the Court’s findings of a violation, it is positive the court recognized the environmental and public health benefits of biodiesel. We are pleased the court did not close the door to biodiesel under the LCFS and appreciate the ongoing efforts of the California Air Resources Board.”

Poet president and COO Jeff Lautt released the following statement:

“We appreciate that the court recognized that state regulations must be based on solid science to deliver cleaner, more affordable options at the pump. This is now the second time the court has ruled that the California Air Resources Board has not followed the law in implementing the Low Carbon Fuel Standard. We look forward to working with state officials to bring this program in line with the latest science.

Poet Says It Wants ‘Full Range of Renewable Options’

“Homegrown ethanol is America’s most abundant low-carbon fuel, and we must ensure that all renewable energy producers can compete on a level playing field against imported energy and fossil fuels. This is especially true given USDA’s recent research demonstrating ethanol has 43% lower greenhouse emissions than gasoline. This decision will require regulators to sit down, take a look at the science and finally get this right so there is a full range of renewable options available to California drivers who care deeply about their health and their climate.

“Poet is committed to working with other biofuel producers to deliver the best selection of homegrown fuels to California drivers, including biodiesel, Midwest ethanol, renewable diesel, and cellulosic ethanol. Poet supports an LCFS that’s based on sound science and allows all renewable fuel access to the market to improve California’s health and environment.”

‘Poet II’ Still Pending

CARB says it hopes to complete the new CEQA review this year, so the program could be fully back on track by early 2018, barring further complications.

Meanwhile, a separate case, known as Poet II, presents a parallel challenge to CARB’s 2015 re-adoption, with many of the same issues. A hearing in that case is slated for late July. The uncertainty presented by the continuing legal challenges creates difficulty for alternative fuel providers who rely on market certainty to guide long-term investment decisions.

Special to Fleets & Fuels



VW Deal to Boost Gov’t EV Programs

June 28, 2016 in Companies, litigation, milestones by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

German Automaker Hit for $14.7 Billion over Its Diesel Deceits
Agreements With U.S. and California to Compensate Consumers
And Back Programs Supporting Zero-Emission Vehicle Technology

Volkswagen will have to spend as much as $10 billion to compensate consumers and $4.7 billion “to mitigate pollution and make investments that support zero-emission vehicle technology,” the U.S. EPA said today, “to settle allegations of cheating emissions tests and deceiving customers.” updated June 29

Wrightspeed Route: Turbine on Mack LR

June 7, 2016 in Companies, Electric Drive, event, EVs, Fleet Order, Hybrids, litigation, New Products, refuse, transit by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

PHEV Chassis Has a Proprietary ‘Fulcrum’ Turbine
As Litigation with Capstone Ends with ‘a Walkaway’

Mack Trucks and Wrightspeed are showing the chassis for a range-extended electric refuse truck at WasteExpo 2016 in Las Vegas this week. “The Route” branded Wrightspeed drive has a proprietary “Fulcrum” brand turbine: diesel-fueled in this instance, but capable of running on a wide variety of fuels.

Gevo Likes Bio- Isobutanol for Fuel

November 24, 2015 in Biofuels, Companies, litigation by Jon LeSage  |  No Comments

Settlement of Lawsuits Paves the Way to Increased Production
Of the Biofuel for Road Vehicles and Aviation & Marine Markets

Settlement of lawsuits over worldwide patent cross-licensing between biofuels producers Gevo, Inc. and Butamax Advanced Biofuels has turned archenemies into friends, according to Gevo chief executive Patrick Gruber. Settlement of the suits, which had made it up to the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year, will help bio-based isobutanol move forward as a clean transportation fuel in automotive, aviation, and marine, he says.

Minnesota Sued on Biodiesel Mandate

April 22, 2015 in Biodiesel, litigation by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

10% Requirement Said to Be Bad for Business, and Vehicles,
National Biodiesel Board ‘Disappointed’ at the Legal Action
As Local Lung Association Points Up Emissions Reductions

A coalition of businesses including the Minnesota Trucking Association has sued the state in federal court, asking for repeal of biodiesel content requirements of 10% in the summer, going to as high as 20% in 2018.

MNtrucking-logoThe Minnesota biodiesel mandate took effect on July 1, 2014. It is “likely raising fueling costs for all diesel vehicles,” states a release issued by MTA, the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the American Petroleum Institute, and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers.

The National Biodiesel Board says B10 – a 10% biodiesel blend – has worked “very well, without negative price impacts on consumers.”

The plaintiffs are suing Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency and the state departments of Agriculture and Commerce, basing their claims under U.S. and state laws including the federal Clean Air Act and the Minnesota Administrative Procedures Act.

Warranties Violated

“Most diesel-fueled passenger cars and light trucks were not designed for – and are not warranted to run on – biofuel blends of 10 or 20%,” they say.

“Use of such fuel blends could result in increased maintenance costs and engine problems… These problems could impact manufacturers and dealers in the state through lost sales and increased warranty claims.

“Minnesota is forcing the sale of what has historically been more costly fuel,” states the release. “The State is purposefully denying access to needed fuels recommended for use in many diesel vehicles while likely raising fueling costs for all diesel vehicles.”

‘Truckers Already Are Avoiding Fueling in Minnesota’

According to the suit itself, as filed in U.S. District Court for Minnesota by the Minneapolis law firm Bassford Remele, problems related to the biodiesel mandate “will cause some auto dealers and auto manufacturers to lose sales and incur greater costs associated with increased warranty claims.

“Moreover, auto manufacturers will see erosion of hard-won brand loyalty. Knowing that B10 typically costs more than petroleum diesel and requires additional maintenance to vehicles, interstate truckers already are avoiding fueling in Minnesota.”

“This lawsuit,” the plaintiffs say, “seeks to restore consumer choice.”

The Lung Association Likes Biodiesel

The American Lung Association in Minnesota, which hosts the Minneapolis Clean Cities organization, declined to comment on the lawsuit, but a spokesman told F&F that B10 – 10% biodiesel – eliminates 163 tons of particulate matter, 216 tons of hydrocarbon, and 1,820 tons of carbon monoxide emissions per year.

“Vehicle emissions are the single largest source of air pollution in the state,” said the Lung Association’s Bob Moffitt. “We’ve always been a supporter of biodiesel,” he said, noting that the city of Minneapolis operates fire trucks, ambulances, transit buses and snow plows on the fuel.

“We are disappointed the American Petroleum Institute and other national groups have sued to suspend Minnesota’s strong, local biodiesel policy,” the National Biodiesel Board said Wednesday.

‘Stop Fighting Progress with Lawsuits Against Renewable Fuels’

“The policy was created in response to Minnesotans broad desire to diversify the fuel supply with locally produced biodiesel that creates jobs, protects our environment and reduces our dependence on foreign oil,” NBB said.

“The fact is Minnesota voters elected their leaders, and those leaders have recognized the outstanding benefits of biodiesel by voting to extend this policy after proven success. Other states such as Illinois have also clearly demonstrated that volumes of B10 or more work very well, without negative price impacts on consumers.

“We would encourage API and others to stop fighting progress with lawsuits against renewable fuels and to join the movement to protecting consumers by diversifying our fuel supplies with cleaner alternatives.”

Contact information is only available to premium subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.

Source: Minnesota Trucking Association with Fleets & Fuels follow-up

  • Archives