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Judge Tosses Out Emissions Lawsuit Against Automakers

LCT Staff
Posted on September 26, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Detroit Big Three and Japanese automakers have won a court victory in the ongoing battle over vehicle tailpipe emissions and their contributions to global warming.

U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins tossed out a California lawsuit that claimed the world's largest automakers should be held accountable for the impact tailpipe emissions were having on the environment. California claimed emissions were causing drought, beach erosion, and warmer temperatures.

The state sought millions of dollars in damages from the automakers: General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler, Toyota Motor Co., Honda North America, and Nissan North America.

Seeking to dismiss the suit, automakers argued the state didn't sue smaller automakers that emit carbon dioxide, or power plants that do the same. They also said the U.S. government has sole authority to regulate emissions.

In issuing his order, Jenkins said California was better suited seeking action from Congress, rather than from the courts.

If the court awarded California money it would "punish (automakers) for lawfully selling their automobiles both within California and outside California in the global market," Jenkins wrote.

The court also said that it was impossible to determine "what is an unreasonable contribution to the sum of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere, or, in determining who should bear the costs associated with the global climate change that admittedly result from multiple sources around the globe."

Theodore J. Boutrous, a lawyer for the automakers, said that the court properly saw the issue of global warming as "one that should be left to the federal government and policymakers and not to the courts."

Adopting California's argument "would have meant going down a dangerous road for the courts," he said.

SOURCE: Detroit News

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