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Judge blocks California rules on cutting carbon emissions

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LOS ANGELES — A federal judge on Thursday temporarily halted California’s ability to enforce rules to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation fuels, effectively taking the regulatory teeth out of the state’s year-old program.

U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence O’Neill in Fresno issued a preliminary injunction that ruled the California Air Resources Board’s low-carbon fuel regulations violated the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause by discriminating against crude oil and biofuels producers located outside California.

The regulations require producers, refiners and importers of gasoline and diesel to reduce the carbon footprint of their fuel by 10 percent over the next decade, as part of California’s landmark global-warming law aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Industry groups applauded the judge’s decision and said the program would have resulted in higher fuel costs for California consumers.