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California Attorney General Seeks Meeting with Automakers to Resolve CO2 Litigation

3 February 2007

California Attorney General Jerry Brown, elected last November, has requested a meeting with the CEOs of GM, Toyota, Ford, Honda, Chrysler and Nissan to discuss a resolution of the litigation currently in federal court between California and the automakers over greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

In September 2006, the Attorney General’s Office filed suit in San Francisco federal court against the automakers for creating vehicles whose emissions are the largest single source of greenhouse gasses in California. (Earlier post.)

In that suit, California charged that manufacturers’ automobiles have contributed to an international global warming threat that has damaged California’s resources, jeopardized environmental health and cost millions of dollars to address current and future negative effects. The automakers are seeking the dismissal of the case on technical grounds.

The outreach was announced along with Brown’s opposition to the attempt at dismissal. A brief filed by the Attorney General affirms the State’s commitment to “hold automakers accountable.”

The legal wrangling began in 2004, after the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers joined a group of automobile dealers in challenging California’s then newly enacted law mandating reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles beginning in 2009.

The federal judge in that case—US District Judge Anthony Ishii—recently postponed the trial over the lawsuit seeking to block the California law, saying that it was best to wait until the US Supreme Court rules on case challenging the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) refusal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Judge Ishii also ordered the California Air Resources Board to delay enforcing tailpipe-emission standards for greenhouse gases. The case had been scheduled to go to trial 30 Jan.

With the current public, state, and Congressional focus on global warming and possible solutions, this is the right time for the state and the automakers to find cooperative approaches and resolve litigation in a constructive manner.

—Attorney General Brown

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February 3, 2007 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (39) | TrackBack (0)

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GO JERRY GO!

Tell those *&%^$#@ that it is time to become more socially responsible and have less of a V8 mentality!

FS

Who's fault is it really, Fred? The companies that make these vehicles, or the people who buy them? Honda and Toyota sell the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the market, and they were still sued. This lawsuit was pre-election grandstanding for Lockyer and nothing more.

This is just as frivolous of a lawsuit as fat people suing McDonald's for their being fat. If I were an auto exec, I'd countersue the State of California for defamation of character.

Isn't it sad that the State of California is broke enough to start suing in order to raise revenue. It's not like a dime of the potential money recovered by this lawsuit will go anywhere except into the state coffers. Frivolous, jumping on the bandwagon for PR purposes.

The court filling starts out with a material false statement. I am wondering if Toyota stopped selling Corollas in California. I just bought one so I know they are sold in other states. Could someone in California start ballot measure requiring all who vote for such legislation and file these lawsuits be required to only ride in cars that meet my standard?

They have reached a consensus in California that everyone else is the problem while promoting making electricity with LNG from South America. Wow what a plan.

Close to 30 thousand people are killed yearly by motor vehicles on the roads of America. Yet car manufacturers were never sued for that damage per se. What chances stands this suit, claiming fictional damages from fictional problem from wrong side?

Proposition 87, overwhelmingly rejected by California people, has provision that oil companies can not pass additional taxes to consumer. This requires “a la Chaves” dismantling of free enterprise at least.

Agreement between California and GB for cooperation in reduction of GHG emissions violates US Constitution, specifically prohibiting agreements between separate states and foreign country.

California legislation aiming reduction of tailpipe CO2 emission violates federal law specifying that fuel efficiency standards is strictly federal prerogative.

The most resent piece of legislation, requiring reduction of carbon content in fuels sold in California on well-to-wheel basis (well being almost 100% outside state borders) violates federal free interstate commerce law, and many others.

Non of these initiatives have a chance to materialize.

Two alternative explanations come to mind: either governator is incredibly dumb, or he is just playing California and environmentalist left.

California has long had the right to regulate air pollution within the state. Obviously, the interstate commerce clause has not prevented the state from doing so. So, co2 regulation is not an interstate commerce issue but an issue as to whether co2 can be considered a pollutant. That is one of the key issues which is to be decided by the Supreme Court and is not a slam dunk, either way.

California has the ability to regulate all sorts of products sold within the state with respect to safety,welfare, and health issues. They are also rather strict on the importation of plant life by persons in autos coming into the state. The fact that part or all of these products may have been manufactured elsewhere is irrelevant and has not restricted the state from protecting its citizens.

While it is true that California cannot set mpg standards per se, it can set air pollution standards and is of the reasonable, common sense opinion that co2 is a pollutant. While some may dispute this interpretation, it is not a simple or settled legal issue.

While one may question the wisdom or practicality of attempting to prohibit the pass through of taxes by the oil companies, the passage of amendment 87 would hardly have dismantled free enterprise. Arguably, however, it was a bad idea and seems to have been primarily advocated by ethanol zealots.

If the auto companies had stepped up to the plate by not fighting the electric car and by innovating rather than challenging California's attempts to fight global warming, we wouldn't be having this dispute. Global warming and co2 emissions are not fictional problems and the damages to the planet and generations to come will not be fictional.

One of the reasons the requirement for EVs was scrapped was because the head of the CARB at the time bought the argument that hydrogen would make approaches like EVs unnecessary. Still waiting for hydrogen to save us all.

I think the relevant issue regarding California and GB is whether or not they have entered into a treaty prohibited by the constitution. It is not clear whether this simple agreement of cooperation would be considered a prohibited treaty.

All in all, California has acted because of the Federal Government's utter failure to address global warming. While there are legal issues which may interfere with some of these initiatives, I don't think it is a slam dunk either way who is going to prevail.

Ya its the car makers fault not californias formaking such a poorly planned and built up road systemthat traffic jams are all over the place.

Ya it cant possibly be because califonia was umbassed enough to have over 30 million people when neither its roads nor the climate can handle that much.. as in we dont get enough air exchanges most of the year to handle this number of people.

No its the car makers fault. Not the fact califonia is building morehomes then most small nations.

Dumbass twits.

Who's fault is it really Cervus? Those hardworking Colombian druglords who provide work for thousands of impoverished farmers.
OR a bunch of Volvo driving, latte sipping Hollywood cokeheads?

I'd love to buy a work truck with a small diesel engine, but they don't exist here, and haven't existed because North American manufacturers haven't been able to market efficient vehicles with the relatively low cost of fuel we all "enjoy". Consumers can only make purchasing choices within the narrow confines of what is on the market, so we all share some responsibility in this mess, but given the government is supposed to be the people's servant and the people are saying it's time to move on, government must show leadership in this arena since it's obvious that manufacturers are unable and unwilling.

Erick -

the reason diesels are so rare in the US LDV fleet is emissions regs - especially those in CA, NY, MA, VT and ME. The exhaust gas aftertreatment technology required to meet even the NOx component of T2B5 / LEV II only became available a few years ago and depends on very low sulfur levels in the diesel fuel to secure effectiveness over the full life of the vehicle. ULSD was introduced in the US only last fall.

EPA and CARB also had misgivings about the SCR mitigation technology that is preferred for the larger engine sizes where switching to diesel is expected to yield the greatest customer benefits. SCR depends on an additive, specifically a solution of highly pure synthetic urea, for which there is as yet no distribution infrastructure in the US. There were also concerns about cold weather performance and especially, the potential for system defeats by the operator. The industry has already addressed these issues in Europe, where SCR is widely used in new HDVs that must meet Euro 4 emissions.

The modest absolute cost of fuel in the US, combined with a fuel tax policy and emissions regs that do not favor one fuel over another, mean that diesel engines are not expected to reach the 50% share of the LDV market they enjoy in Europe. I've seen estimates of perhaps 15% by 2015. Initially, clean diesel will be limited to high-margin premium vehicles such as luxury sedans as well as full-size SUVs and pick-up trucks. Only when the cost of the NOx emissions equipment starts to fall will the technology migrate to the lower-margin vehicle segments.

One factor that could accelerate this transition is the definition of Euro 6 emissions regs, which are widely expected to sharply reduce NOx limits for lean-burn engines. Euro 5, due to come into force in 2009/2010, focuses on particulates. Unusually, the regulators are actually behind the curve on that as the technology to meet Euro 5 PM levels already exists today in the form of wall-flow particulate filters.

Diesel customers are insisting on such DPFs even for cars that already meet the current Euro 4 level without them, because they don't want to be called polluters and, to protect resale value. Now that additional technology is available for ultra-low NOx emissions, it is quite possible LDV diesel customers over here will demand it even before Euro 6 goes into effect in 2014. The key issue, as usual, is who eats the incremental cost: the customer, the manufacturer or the taxpayer?

Right now, the EU commission, member states and the European auto industry are in the midst of a battle royal over future fleet average CO2 emissions per km, which are directly related to fuel economy. Diesel has become a key technology for bringing this average down and represents a significant competitive advantage over US and Asian brands. This is why manufacturers are not at all keen to increase the already higher initial cost of diesel engine options even further by adding NOx aftertreatment before they really have to - doing so would reduce diesel market share in the volume segments and increase fleet average CO2.

The silver lining is that the same NOx aftertreatment technology can also be applied to gasoline engines with second-generation spray-guided direct injection, permitting globally lean stratified combustion (i.e. much reduced throttling losses). Throw in displacement downsizing, turbochargers with modern high-temperature materials and cam phasing and average fuel economy goes up by 25-30%. This is comparable to diesel efficiency, but for now the total incremental system cost is quite high. This is not science fiction but rather the state of the art of high-end production models from certain German manufacturers.

The idea of a state regulating CO2 Emmission, because of Global warming seems silly to me. The issue is a global one, and for one state to cut its contribution in the absense of holding the line outside the state is mere shoveling sand against the tide for political reasons.

I submit that regulating the price of consumption, where the more fuel you use, the more you pay per gallon, is the only effective means of reducing CO2 emissions. All else is simply grandstanding for political purposes, and I point to the last 30 years as evidence.

Picture a world where 2/3 of the miles driven are powerd via the electric utility supply power from non-CO2 emitting fuels such as nuclear and wind and PV. Picture the remaining third coming from biodiesel or other second generation renewables that do not reduce the amound of carbon locked up in fossil fuel.

Erik,

You're absolutely right. There's now no reason that you shouldn't be able to buy that diesel truck at a reasonable price. You're not just paying the price at the pumps. Californians are paying the price with the air they breath.

I sure hope to hell that California will be allowed by the courts to set C02 limits, and thereby once again lead our nation toward a sustainable energy future. (Knowing full well that California can't sustain its urban sprawl, water use, etc.)

They tried to mandate the electric car, but found it to be impractical for most people due to the cost and limited range. The hydrogen future is that fuzzy thing (must be a mirage) that some people see a generation or two down the road. The $30,000 midsize full-hybrid gasoline LDV is solely made to make the public feel good about the brand, and doesn't turn a profit for the factory. With the median wage dropping in the USA, are people really going to pay $35,000 for them in numbers to provide a profit for the factory?

We're all in agreement that existing diesel trucks need to be retrofitted with particulate filters ASAP. This can't proceed quickly enough. California needs to lead here, as well as to lead in requirements for all diesel engines, both new and old. California should also require their still quite prevalent legacy gas cars to be retrofitted with the same, or buy them to be scrapped.

As for new diesel LDV engines, California could solve the problem tomorrow by only slightly lightening up on the new NOX regulations. With careful design of the combustion process and enough EGR, engineers can get quite close to the regulation without a high tech. or secondary catalyst, just the particulate filter. This compromise will make the 4 cylinder clean turbo-diesel the powerplant of choice in the normal $20,000 new car (more for the new truck). Add another $1000 for stop-start or increments toward micro-hybrid as an option or maybe even as a requirement. For the $15,000 entry level car, the factories can make horizontally opposed two cylinder versions of these engines.

I don't see any other solution which can be implemented in the short run. Maybe tax credits for short or no commute to work? Punitive annual excise taxes or taxes at the pump? Free public transportation?

This type of litigation is no doubt bordering on the frivolous side. However, reviewing the recent success of mass-action lawsuits against tobacco industry, significantly reducing the rate of smoking and raising the price of a pack of cigarette from $1 to $3-5 now, whereas, the tobacco industry were virtually "untouchable" for decades due to their powerful lobbying influence in Congress...Thus the states has no choice but excercising the trick of "legislating via the judiciary branch of government."

A parallelism exists here, in that the Auto industry in collusion with the Oil industry in making huge gas-guzzling cars causing pollution and environmental harms, and yet, Congress has not been terribly effective...Calif. state has been at the forefront of environmental activism...and I can't applaud them enough for that...The ZEV mandate has resulted in huge advancement in electric vehicle and battery technology and untold other anti-pollution technology that...if left the the US Congress, probably will never happen...

So, legislate by judiciary branch if you will...the environment and petroleum dependency and national security can't wait! (for Congress to get their acts together)

I never understood how carbon dioxide regulation equates to fuel economy standards. There's nothing preventing a manufacturer from building storage for some portion of the carbon dioxide they emit, aside from practicality of course. ;) But than again, I don't think most would consider a two ton vehicle, carrying one person, at a average of 5mph in traffic, as practical.

I agree Roger. Van the issue is global of course. But since there is no world agreement or government to enforce a world-wide reduction those countries, states, cities, suburns and individuals that are willing to do so should. Otherwise what are you going to do? Nothing? Its classic failure of the commons. If no one does anything everyone goes to the #)(#TW#%#( house. As Chirac suggested, do what you can and tax imports from those that free ride.

Rafael, I understand the current situation with regard to diesel regulations, however I was referring more to the past when diesels enjoyed very little regulation, they just never made any trucks or vans with diesel engines smaller than 5.9l as far as I can find, mostly due to gasoline being so cheap that they saw no need to make an efficient truck here. In Japan they made plenty, but current regulations don't allow older diesels on the road so (thankfully) the low mileage ones are being shipped over here and that's what I'm looking at.

Erick.

What about the old VW diesel truck? Perhaps much smaller than you had in mind and, perhaps, before your time. In any event, you wouldn't want one of those now. I have a friend who had one and the smell is overwhelming.

The reason states cant control things like this is its something they arnt allowed to due to laws. There are in fact alot of things the state doesnt control and for a very good reason.

I agree that someone showing the way by taking the first action is the key to encouraging effective action by others. But compulsion never works, see the history of left-wing economics, so incentives are the key. When a person can benefit by utilizing more fuel efficent ways to transport themselves, development will follow.

When buying Hybrids makes better economic sense, due to the consumption tax, coupled with minimizing the release of oxgenated carbon into the air, we will start to take effective action because it will be driven from the bottom up. All these CO2 taxes, gas guzzler taxes and CAFE standards are ineffective ideas that leave out the need for individuals choosing what is right for them.

Why seek remedy with the courts? The fix is in the legislature and with entities like CARB. It should not be up to a federal judge (or state judge for that matter). I'll assume the legislature didn't like the cause.

If GM was smart however, they'd do it voluntarily. Let's look at Exon's 39 billion dollar profits...and GM's loss, along with Ford's. Something is not working.

Don't blame Exxon for GM and Fords failure. It was only 6 short years ago that GM and Ford were making as much money as Exxon was, but with their tunnel vision they repeated the same mistakes they made during the first oil crisis while Exxon was smart enough to adapt.

"Why seek remedy with the court?"

Good question. The court is the last recourse that the poor and the disadvantaged have, via mass-action lawsuits or via lawyers who charge no fee but collecting a portion of the settlement, to overcome the entrenched power of big interest groups who have already bought-up elective officials in congress and in the executive branch (Bush et al). Federal court judges are not elected and usually have permanent tenure, hence are less vulnerable to the corrupting influences that elected officials are suffering from, in order to get elected in the first place. When an elected official spends 20-40 millions to campaign for a job that pays $160,000 yearly, or spent $200 millions (Bush&Cheney ticket) in order to get a job that pays $400,000/yr plus benefits, common sense should tells you that something is not right!

Thus, we can see the near-infinite wisdom of our founding fathers to allow for an independent judiciary branch of govenment with a trial by-jury-system that somehow is the last line of defense of the common people against tyranny by big businesses, robber barrons, and corrupted elected officials who are bent to do things to benefit the rich and the big interest groups at the expense of public good and of our national interest.

Roger:

There is an old anecdote. One of Rockfellers, when running for Senate, told to the voters: “Trust me. Nobody will be able to bribe me.”

That's right, Andrey. Ross Perot could have said the same thing, but, too bad, his plain-talking no-nonsense approach is not polished enough for the American Voters, who would rather hear unfulfillable promises from their favorite charismatic candidates rather than hearing the plain old truth about hard work ethic, patience, patriotism and moral core value! I still remember well Perot's warming about a "giant sucking sound" following NAFTA enactment. Now, substituting China for Mexico and I can hear loudly the "giant sucking sound" of American well-paying manufacturing jobs heading out of the border!

Phoenix Motorcars has com out with a pair of vehicles that seem to be ready to change the consumer's minds about EVs. (Electric Vehicles)

http://www.phoenixmotorcars.com/

It has some very good mileage numbers and looks very promising.

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