Automakers Sued over Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Today the state of California sued half a dozen automakers over the greenhouse gases that their products are producing. State Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed the suit in the suit U.S. District Court in Northern California claiming that the vehicle emissions have cost the state millions of dollars by creating a public nuisance. The claims come under state and federal common law and accuse the manufacturers of producing "millions of vehicles that collectively emit massive quantities of carbon dioxide". The six biggest manufacturers of vehicles in the United States including General Motors, Ford, Chrysler Group, Toyota, Nissan and Honda are included in the suit.

This is an interesting new approach in the fight to move beyond federal emissions and fuel efficiency regulations. For many years the state of California has been trying to set emission standards and more recently fuel economy standards that exceed those set by the federal government. The state has been largely successful on the emissions front but has been sued by manufacturers claiming they don't have the authority to set economy standards. More recently they have taken an indirect approach to economy by trying to limit carbon emissions which are a direct output of burning fuel. The more fuel a car burns the more carbon it produces. The only realistic way to limit carbon output is to limit the fuel that is consumed. Given how the car makers have fought carbon regulations it will be interesting to see how they respond to this suit. Also of interest will be how the Japanese brands respond. It should be an interesting fight. Stay tuned.

[Source: Reuters, Hat Tip to Steve]

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