ATA Enters Legal Battle Against Oregon Clean Fuels Program


The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has joined with the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) and the Consumer Energy Alliance in suing the government of Oregon to block the state's Clean Fuels Program.

The joint complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, challenges the constitutionality of the program.

Established in 2009, the Clean Fuels Program aims to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from transportation fuels in Oregon by 10% over the next decade through low-carbon fuel standards. The program was never fully implemented, however, so the state recently passed a law to lift the initiative's original sunset date.

The lawsuit charges that the implementation and enforcement of the Oregon program violates the U.S. Constitution by discriminating against transportation fuels produced outside the state, with the intended purpose of promoting and benefiting the development of in-state fuel production and discouraging the use of fuels from outside of Oregon.

The complaint also claims the program is unconstitutional because it attempts to regulate conduct occurring outside the state of Oregon, as the program will require importers to cut the average carbon intensity of fuels they provide in Oregon to meet the clean fuel standards.

Furthermore, the complaint argues that the federal Clean Air Act and other federal statutes preempt the Oregon program.

‘Just as trucking is the lifeblood of our economy, for the foreseeable future, diesel fuel is the lifeblood of the trucking industry,’ says ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. ‘Anything that unnecessarily raises the cost of fuel will not just hurt the trucking industry, but will also hurt consumers everywhere in the form of higher prices for food, clothing and other consumer goods.’

Glen Kedzie, ATA's vice president for energy and environmental affairs, says the program is designed to give ‘a big boost to Oregon's small biofuel industry.”

‘Unfortunately for Oregon,” he continues, “the Constitution doesn't allow states to set up these kinds of trade barriers in order to promote in-state businesses, nor does it allow Oregon to regulate how fuel is produced in other states.’

ATA claims Oregon's low-carbon fuel standards are slated to raise fuel prices across the state.

‘A similar standard implemented in neighboring California is projected to add roughly $1.89 per gallon wholesale by 2020,’ Kedzie says, citing a California Trucking Association study.

AFPM General Counsel Rich Moskowitz, meanwhile, says the Oregon program will provide “no measurable environmental benefit.”

“Greenhouse-gas emissions have the same impact regardless of where they are emitted, and forcing the consumption of low-carbon fuels in Oregon – or in any state – will not reduce global carbon emissions due to fuel shuffling,” says Moskowitz.

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