California vs. Automakers dropped - bickering continues, greenhouse gas emissions rise

Tue, 2007-09-18 10:01Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

California vs. Automakers dropped - bickering continues, greenhouse gas emissions rise

A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit filed by the State of California against auto manufacturers. The suit claimed damages against automakers for the environmental damage being caused by excessive greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles. 

The judge concluded that the courts aren't set up to deal with climate change and other “political questions” with international reach and that such a task belongs to Congress and the executive branch of the government. 

The automakers named in the lawsuit were General Motors, Toyota, Ford Motor, Honda Motor, Daimler Chrysler and Nissan.  According to the judge's 24-page opinion (pdf), the six companies produce vehicles that emit over 289 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which constitutes over 20% of human-generated carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.

In other words, our sky is a free waste dump for the car company's product. It would be like a restaurant owner throwing all the left-over food into the street and not having to pay a fine for this behavior or picking up the tab for the clean up crew. 

The State of California has spent millions on studying, planning, monitoring and responding to the impacts of global warming already happening, yet the automakers do not have to spend a dime assisting the State with a problem their product played a huge role in creating.

Not only are the automakers not helping, they have been supporting another lawsuit against the State of California to to block stricter greenhouse gas emissions standards for new vehicles.

Forget PR spin and industry front groups to delay action, the automakers take the global warming “debate” to a whole other level. 

Comments

If our court system is not going to protect our environment then we as people must exercise the one power we do have….consumption. While in most cases this has been the error of our ways, in many cases we can use the power of the market to make positive changes policy makers and court systems clearly seem to avoid. Our voices are no longer the sway of a revolution, but our dollars are. The market place speaks and if we want to lower greenhouse gases then we as consumers must demand products that do just that. If we demand through the power of purchase that more alternative fuel vehicles such as those that run solely on electricity or solar power, the auto industry will respond. If we buy up more or our power from alternate energy sources such as wind and solar, the industry will respond. What we buy and what we don’t buy in the end is the last true bastion of change.

An interesting new website targeting young people and students has just emerged. www.nogasrequired.com. This site focuses on the benefit of electric cars and educates visitors about EVs and environmental responsibility. Check it out.

The best precedent that Californians should cite if they continue in their attempt to shift personal and governmental responsibility to corporations is the Great Tobacco Settlement of the Clinton years.
In both cases (cigarettes & cars), it was common knowledge that a product was harmful to users and nonusers alike, and yet, in both cases, consumers made the choice to use the product anyway.
What lawyers were able to prove with the cigarette industry was that the industry kept secrets from the public that the public had a right to know. Legal Eagles in California merely have to prove the same against car manufacturers. Shouldn’t be hard. Just ask Ralph Nader for his top ten list of car maker lies.
I’m not exactly rooting for either side in this litigational lottery. We all have the ability to vote with our dollar. To paraphrase an old truism, We get the environment we deserve.

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This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

The Heartland Institute’s recent International Climate Change Conference in Las Vegas illustrates climate change deniers’ desperate confusion. As Bloomberg News noted, “Heartland’s strategy seemed to be to throw many theories at the wall and see what stuck.” A who’s who of fossil fuel industry supporters and anti-science shills...

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