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