Calif. judge dismisses state suit against automakers 2007-09-18 19:52:17   Print

    BEIJING, Sept. 18 (Xinhuanet) -- After suffering a defeat last week in a Vermont federal court, U.S. automakers took heart Monday when a federal judge in San Francisco ruled the courts do not have the authority or expertise to decide injury lawsuits concerning global warming and dismissed a suit brought by the State of California against six car companies.

    Judge William K. Sessions III endorsed Vermont's regulations meant to reduce greenhouse gases emitted by cars and light trucks last week. More than 12 states have similar regulations, and a lawsuit challenging such regulations in California is pending.

    In the case decided Monday, California claimed the six car companies produced vehicles that accounted for more than 20 percent of human-generated carbon dioxide emissions in the United States and more than 30 percent of those in California.

    The suit claimed the emissions were a public nuisance and sought billions of dollars in damages.

    Judge Martin K. Jenkins wrote that a resolving of the questions presented in the suit was not a proper task for the courts.

    "The adjudication of plaintiff's claim would require the court to balance the competing interests of reducing global warming emissions and the interests of advancing and preserving economic and industrial development," Jenkins wrote.

    The two decisions are not necessarily at odds. They collectively suggest states may address climate change through their legislatures and executive branches but not through the courts.

    Given national and international debate on the issues, Jenkins wrote, "the court finds that injecting itself into the global warming thicket at this juncture would require an initial policy determination of the type reserved for the political branches of government."


Editor: Gareth Dodd
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