The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

California Tries Suing Big Automakers Over Global Warming

by Shreema Mehta

Sept. 22, 2006 – The California attorney general has filed a "public nuisance" lawsuit against six automobile companies, seeking monetary damages for what the state calls their contributions to global warming.

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The lawsuit alleges that cars manufactured by General Motors, Toyota, Nissan, Ford and Chrysler Motors produce emissions that contribute to a variety of environmental damages, including the reduction of snow-derived surface water, increased ozone pollution in urban areas, infiltration of saltwater into some drinking supplies and an increased threat of wildfires.

Attorney General Bill Lockyer seeks monetary damages for the companies’ past and future alleged contributions to global warming, adding that the state has spent millions of dollars to study and make infrastructure adjustments for the damages caused by climate change.

The complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, details widespread scientific evidence for global warming, and contends that emissions released by the companies’ cars have contributed to a disproportionate release of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas scientists say contributes to overheating the planet.

California was the first state to require automobile companies to gradually lower greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent, a process slated to begin in 2009. Major automobile companies are suing the state over the law, with a trial set for January 2007.

In response to Lockyer’s suit, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers told Reuters: "Automakers will need time to review this legal complaint. However, a similar nuisance suit that was brought by attorneys general against utilities was dismissed by a federal court in New York."

Last year, seven states and New York City filed a similar lawsuit against several utility companies. A federal judge ruled against the attorneys general, calling the complaint a political issue that should be decided under the legislative branch, not the court system.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Shreema Mehta is a staff journalist.

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