- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2006

4:41 p.m.

SACRAMENTO — California’s attorney general today sued the six largest U.S. and Japanese automakers, including GM, Ford and Toyota, for damages related to greenhouse gas emissions.

The federal lawsuit contends that emissions from their vehicles have harmed Californians’ health, damaged the environment and cost the state millions of dollars to combat their effects.

“It’s part of a strategy to address global warming,” Attorney General Bill Lockyer said. “The goal of this one is to hold these automobile manufacturers accountable for the monies taxpayers are spending to address these harms.”

The lawsuit is the latest effort from California to combat the effects of global warming.

Last month, the state Legislature passed a landmark bill designed to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases from industries. Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to sign the measure into law by the end of the month.

Two years ago, the state enacted similar requirements for auto emissions, prompting carmakers to file suit in federal court.

Mr. Lockyer’s action comes 48 days before the November election. The Democrat is termed out of office this year and is running for state treasurer.

“This is the silly season of elections in the fall, and obviously he thinks this will gain him a few marginal votes,” said Sean McAlinden, an economist with the nonprofit Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. “I don’t think it means anything more than it says. It’s California politics.”

Mr. Lockyer said the complaint has nothing to do with election-year politics.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland, names Chrysler Motors Corp., General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor North America, Honda North America and Nissan North America.

The automakers responded to Mr. Lockyer’s lawsuit by issuing a statement saying they already are building cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers also cited a similar lawsuit brought against utilities that was dismissed previously by a federal court in New York.

The alliance did not respond to the substance of Mr. Lockyer’s lawsuit, saying manufacturers would need time to review the complaint.



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