Fri, Sep 22, 2006 - Page 1 News List

California sues six major automakers over gas emissions

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

California, which has battled the automotive industry over new global warming regulations for years, sued the world's six largest automakers on Wednesday, demanding that they pay for environmental damage caused by the emissions of their vehicles.

"Global warming is causing significant harm to California's environment, economy, agriculture and public health," said Bill Lockyer, the state's attorney general. "Vehicle emissions are the single most rapidly growing source of the carbon emissions contributing to global warming, yet the federal government and automakers have refused to act."

The suit, filed in a US District Court in Northern California, is the first such attempt to hold automakers accountable for the greenhouse gases that vehicles produce. It accuses General Motors, Toyota, Ford, Honda, Chrysler and Nissan of creating a public nuisance by building millions of vehicles that collectively discharge 289 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually.

Lockyer contends that the products of the six companies are responsible for a fifth of the carbon dioxide emissions nationwide and nearly a third of the emissions in California, which has more vehicles than any other state.

He said he would seek at least "tens of millions" in damages for past, current and future contributions to air pollution, beach erosion and reduced water supplies.

The automakers named in the suit declined to comment on it directly, but a trade group representing them labeled the accusations a "nuisance suit" similar to an unsuccessful attempt by several Northeastern states to hold utilities liable for environmental damage. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, based in Washington, said in a statement that "automakers are already building cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles."

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