Wednesday, September 20, 2006

California's greenhouse gases suit

It's all over the news that California has sued several auto makers over greenhouse gas emissions. Corporate Crime Reporter's article has a link to a PDF of the complaint itself, which you can read here. (Bless 'em for giving the link, especially since the big databases don't seem to have picked it up yet, but I can't help wondering why an organization called Corporate Crime Reporter is covering a civil suit. I guess they define "crime" broadly.) Here's a quick overview:

California v. General Motors Corp., Toyota Motor North America, Inc., Ford Motor Co., Honda North America, Inc., Chrysler Motors Corp., and Nissan North America, Inc. Case # C06-05755. Filed by Bill Lockyer Sep. 20, 2006 in federal district court, Northern District of California.

The complaint alleges claims of both federal common law public nuisance and California state law public nuisance (Cal. Civ. Code §§ 3479 and 3480.) It asks for monetary damages but does not appear to seek injunctive relief. Paragraphs 2 and 61 give the flavor of it:
Defendants have for many years produced millions of automobiles that collectively emit massive quantities of carbon dioxide in the United States and have thus contributed to an elevated level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
. . .
Defendants knew or should have known, and know or should know, that their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases contribute to global warming and to the resulting injuries and threatened injuries to California, its citizens and residents, environment, and economy.
The complaint alleges specific harm to California. Paragraph 4 alleges the costs of planning, monitoring, and infrastructure changes to deal with "a large spectrum of current and anticipated impacts":
  • reduced snow pack leading to future water shortages and flooding
  • coastal and beach erosion
  • increased ozone pollution
  • sea water intrusion into Sacramento Bay-Delta drinking water supplies
  • impacts to wildlife including endangered species and fish
  • wildfire risks
  • long-term monitoring needs
This case will probably be in the courts quite a while. It'll be interesting to read the parties' briefs.

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