Long at the front of environmental efforts, and often ridiculed because of it, California filed a groundbreaking lawsuit against six major automakers today. The allegation is that these automakers have caused millions of dollars worth of spending by the state due to increased greenhouse gases resulting from running their automobiles. State Attorney General Bill Lockyer said the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California is the first to seek damages based on vehicle emissions. Named in the suit are Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., Toyota Motor Corp., Chrysler Motors Corp., and the North American branches of Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.

California's regulations to limit greenhouse gases from vehicles through its California Air Resources Board (CARB) have often caused friction between the state and automakers. California, with an estimated 26 million vehicles on the road, often sets automotive and environmental trends because it accounts for 10% of national auto sales. Automakers frequently incorporate the more restrictive California requirements into the whole fleet rather than producing different versions of the same vehicle for California and other states that adopt its policies.

[Sources: Reuters, CARB]