California Air Resources Board lifts freeze on Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

By Joshua T. Bledsoe and Kimberly D. Farbota

On December 7, 2018, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) issued Regulatory Guidance Document 18-02 which lifts the freeze on Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) diesel and diesel substitute targets previously enacted by CARB in 2017 in connection with the POET I case. The Guidance becomes effective January 1, 2019 at which point the applicable diesel standards will revert to the schedule specified in the current LCFS Regulation.

The freeze, put in place by CARB to comply with a writ of mandate, will now be lifted following the discharge of the writ. As discussed in previous posts, the POET I case arose from Petitioner POET, LLC’s challenges to the original LCFS regulation adopted by CARB in 2009. In April 2017, the Court of Appeal ruled that CARB failed to faithfully execute a writ of peremptory mandate requiring the agency to properly address nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from biodiesel, and in October 2017, the Superior Court issued a modified writ of mandate to reflect the Court of Appeals holding. In accordance with the modified writ, in November 2017 CARB issued Regulatory Guidance Document 17-03, freezing carbon intensity requirements for diesel and diesel substitutes at 2017 levels until the modified writ could be discharged. CARB approved an LCFS extension package in September 2018 that includes an analysis of NOx emissions attributable to the LCFS, which was prepared to fulfill the modified writ. After approving the LCFS extension package and associated environmental analysis, CARB asked the Superior Court to discharge the modified writ. On December 7, 2018, the Superior Court issued an order discharging the modified writ, and on the same day CARB issued Regulatory Guidance Document 18-02 lifting the freeze.