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Federal judge dismisses California global warming lawsuit against automakers

[JURIST] A federal judge in California dismissed a lawsuit [order, PDF] Monday alleging that vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases [EPA backgrounder] have contributed to global warming constituting a "public nuisance" that has cost the state of California millions of dollars. Judge Martin J. Jenkins of the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] wrote that the case "presents a non-justiciable political question" and said that courts lack jurisdiction to decide injury lawsuits based on global warming, noting that the issue needs to be addressed on a nationwide scale by Congress. Jenkins added that he did not want to expose automakers, utility companies and other industries to damages for "lawfully engaging in their respective spheres of commerce." Last week, a federal court in Vermont ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that states have the power to regulate automobile greenhouse gas emissions.

Former California Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed the lawsuit [complaint, PDF; JURIST report] last year against Chrysler, General Motors Corporation, Ford, Toyota, Honda and Nissan, alleging that vehicles manufactured by the companies "currently account for nearly 20 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in the United States and more that 30 percent in California." The automakers moved to dismiss the lawsuit [JURIST report] last December, arguing that disagreements they may have with the state should be settled through the regulatory process, not litigation. The New York Times has more.

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