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California Sues Automakers for Global Warming

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the new-revenue-models dept.

725

ajs writes "Reuters is reporting that the state of California is suing automakers over global warming. California is claiming that automakers have 'harmed the resources, infrastructure and environmental health,' of the state. The targeted automakers are Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., Toyota Motor Corp., Chrysler Motors Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co."

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Oh for the love of..... (5, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | about 8 years ago | (#16149110)

Oh, for the love of...... *checks calendar..... nope, not April 1st)*

"(California) just passed a new law to cut global warming emissions by 25 percent and that's a good start and this lawsuit is a good next step," said Dan Becker, director of the Sierra Club's Global Warming Program.

Now, I am pretty much middle of the road politically (Disclaimer: I lean a bit left though), but this is insane. Insane as in insanely bad. Hey, Sierra Club! This statement may have just cost you 2007s contribution from me. The global warming legislation had good components, but if you start allying yourself with lawsuits like this, count me out.

Lockyer told Reuters he would seek "tens or hundreds of millions of dollars" from the automakers in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California.

Uh huh.... and what is your take going to be Lockyer? Oh, just a small percentage you say, but a small percentage of an obscenely large number of dollars is still lots of dollars, right? Will you be buying a new Bentley with your share? Or will it be a party in your Escalade?

While we are talking lawsuit, what's the logical argument/premise going to be for filing the suit? If we hold the automobile manufacturers responsible then what of the users of their products? Are you going to say that the drivers of such automobiles are "addicted", so by their logic are immune to prosecution? Why focus on the automakers? Why not grab every last dollar you can by going after the drivers and the cities and states that build the roads and freeways, because without them, the automakers would not have a market, right? As long as we are suing people because of global warming, why not airlines? Airline manufacturers? Smokers? Dry cleaners? The leather tanners that made your loafers? Hey, how about the computer industry? Or....... I *know*, lets sue all of the electrical generating companies and take us back to the dark ages.

Seriously though, I understand that there are lots of sources of global warming, but Lockyer, this is not the way to solve the problem by making the automotive companies the boogeymen. The real solution from an automotive perspective is to federally mandate gas milage standards that are more stringent than where they are now, provide incentives for more fuel efficient and lower polluting automobiles rather than the current system where there is an incentive for large SUVs, and work from the consumer side *without* filing suits to line your pocketses.

*RANT*Oh and while we are at it, Hey! G.W.B, instead of sucking money out of research, development and education, why don't you do what you said and invest in education and research? We are not going to solve these problems through a narrow focus on religious fundamentalism while we are excluding science education.

Jeez, sometimes I feel like I am getting squeezed on the far left by goofy loonies like Lockyer and pushed out of the picture by power hungry neocon fundies on the extreme right. What happened to the middle ground where people of reason and careful thought worked through compromise to help advance progress?*/RANT*

Re:Oh for the love of..... (5, Interesting)

eln (21727) | about 8 years ago | (#16149177)

California has made many attempts to get automobile manufacturers to cut emissions, and have been repeatedly sued by those auto manufacturers to keep those laws from getting enforced. California is now simply returning the favor.

I doubt that anyone seriously expects the state to win this suit, but they are at the very least drawing attention to the auto manufacturers' continuous efforts to keep any law that might involve reduced emissions or higher fuel economy off the books.

Re:Oh for the love of..... (2, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 8 years ago | (#16149259)

Hmm...I guess the cars manufacturers could just stop selling their 'horrible' product in CA, and see how that works, eh?

Geez, doesn't CA have enough problems in house that should take precidence over stupid shit like this?

By the way, I've always wondered..how the CA special emissions work. What if you have a car you've bought outside the state...and move to the state with it. Does it have to be modified to work within their 'rigid' conditions? What if you want to modify your car (chips, exhaust, other higher perfomance stuff)? Do they make you take it off when you move there, or stop you at the state border and make you walk in?

I've always heard the joke about CA being the granola state, but, now I'm starting to believe it....

Re:Oh for the love of..... (3, Informative)

On Lawn (1073) | about 8 years ago | (#16149339)


For a number of years, CA's strict emmissions have been met by all auto manufacturer's anyway. There is no special CA car like there was in the 80's.

When there was such an arrangement, bringing in an out of state car incurred a penalty fee on registration. For me it would have been $300 some odd dollars (ironically more than half the price of the car). But before I could register it, the car was deemed a gross polluter and I was forced to sell it out of state.

As far as I know, there was no way to retrofit a car to match the standards. Many a hobbyist have expressed how much they wish they could just pass some straight forward test for emissions, thats it end of story. But the car has to have some sort of pedigree, meaning either the engine you put in the car becomes the standard for the emissions test. You can only put in an engine from a newer car, and it has to be manufactured for CA (if that applies to that year).

But that is all from memory. Its been a while.

Re:Oh for the love of..... (1)

ender- (42944) | about 8 years ago | (#16149387)

By the way, I've always wondered..how the CA special emissions work. What if you have a car you've bought outside the state...and move to the state with it. Does it have to be modified to work within their 'rigid' conditions? What if you want to modify your car (chips, exhaust, other higher perfomance stuff)? Do they make you take it off when you move there, or stop you at the state border and make you walk in?

I'm not 100% sure that it's the same now, but when we moved to California [1994], they charged $300 to 'import' our car. This was in spite of the fact that it was a Honda Civic that EASILY passed all of the CA smog and emmissions tests.

If your car passses the emmissions tests every 2 years, then you don't really have to worry. If not, then once every two years, you'll have to un-chip/un-modify it so that it will pass.

Re:Oh for the love of..... (2, Interesting)

LordKronos (470910) | about 8 years ago | (#16149273)

California has made many attempts to get automobile manufacturers to cut emissions, and have been repeatedly sued by those auto manufacturers to keep those laws from getting enforced.

And if the lawsuits were successful in blocking the tougher regulations, then it would appear the law is already on the auto-makers side. So this suit could basically be summed up as "I'm suing you for winning the previous lawsuit".

Re:Oh for the love of..... (3, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 8 years ago | (#16149288)

If they win, will the car manufacturers have to buy them a new planet?

Re:Oh for the love of..... (4, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | about 8 years ago | (#16149289)

I doubt that anyone seriously expects the state to win this suit, but they are at the very least drawing attention to the auto manufacturers' continuous efforts to keep any law that might involve reduced emissions or higher fuel economy off the books.

California is the home of marketing, right? Has it not occurred to anyone that legislation like this is bad press? Comeon now, you have some of the best minds in the world working and living in the state of California and this is what they come up with? How about some creative legislation, like providing state incentives rather than disencentives for more fuel efficient cars? Making metropolitan parking spaces smaller and providing drivers of micro cars discounted parking or opening up carpool lanes to micro cars like the Smart ForTwo? How about doing things like allowing drivers of micro cars to register their cars every other year? There are lots of other potential incentives that could be implemented rather than playing a legal one upsmanship that only serves to employ class action lawyers.

Re:Oh for the love of..... (5, Insightful)

PhotoJim (813785) | about 8 years ago | (#16149425)

If California wants vehicles to emit fewer pollutants, it could change taxation policy to dissuade people from driving large vehicles, or from driving at all. It could improve public transportation so that people don't have to drive.

Oh wait. This is an American state. Market failures are ok, unless we can fix them without taxing anyone.

Seriously, instead of telling the manufacturers they have to meet a certain fuel economy rating, California should just apply taxes to vehicles that don't meet that rating. The further above the rating, the higher the tax. If someone wants to pay 35% tax on a Hummer H2 despite its fuel economy, let him. If the population of California still buys vehicles that drink too much gas, raise the taxes. Conversely, if they achieve a better-than-anticipated mileage, consider reducing the tax, or providing a small tax credit to very environmentally-friendly vehicles. Target demand, not supply. Give people freedom to buy what they want, but a strong economic incentive to buy what is best for society as a whole.

Taxing fuel makes sense too. The more fuel your vehicle consumes, and the further you drive it, the more tax you pay. However, this creates economic pressure on poor Californians, so it would have to be balanced with a tax credit system for the poor or improvements to public transit to mitigate the impact.

Sure, this will hurt the economy in the short run, but in the long run, doing nothing will do far more damage.

Re:Oh for the love of..... (5, Insightful)

carpeweb (949895) | about 8 years ago | (#16149224)

I lean left, too, but as a market capitalist, not as a socialist.

The real solution from an automotive perspective is to federally mandate gas milage standards

That's less effective than increasing the cost of gasoline, which is more market-based as a solution. Yes, I know that artificially increasing the cost of gasoline might have secondary economic and political effects, such as giving politicians more pork. But it definitely

provide[s] incentives for more fuel efficient and lower polluting automobiles

However, I, too, feel the pinch between the ascendant right wing and the lunatic left wing. There's not much room for "real" liberals, is there?

Re:Oh for the love of..... (4, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | about 8 years ago | (#16149308)

Gas is price-inelastic. This means increasing the price has very little effect on how much is consumed (note that SUV sales and gas sales have not been negatively impacted by the gasoline increases recently). So no, raising the price of gasoline is an utterly inefficient way of doing anything other than causing inflation. Like most market based solutions, they just don't work.

Re:Oh for the love of..... (2, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 8 years ago | (#16149421)

Gasoline is still not as expensive as it was in the late 70's when adjusted for inflation.

SUV sales collapsed when gas prices went up. Used SUV prices collapsed when prices went up.

Even mildly higher gasoline had a dramatic effect on the production of gas guzzlers.

Re:Oh for the love of..... (5, Insightful)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | about 8 years ago | (#16149427)

I hate people who take a teensy bit of information out of context and act like they know the whole topic. In an unrelated matter:

Gas is price-inelastic. This means increasing the price has very little effect on how much is consumed

Yes, gas is price inelastic -- in the short term. You are correct that

SUV sales and gas sales have not been negatively impacted by the gasoline increases recently

I also do not turn my li'l car in and buy an SUV on every day when gas prices drop.

However, if people expect these to be permanent, *then* they start making long term adaptations. Now, if we have a gas tax, and use the proceeds to clean up or compensate the damage from pollution, and people still drive the same ... er ... what's the problem?

Re:Oh for the love of..... (4, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 8 years ago | (#16149350)

I agree. The best way to make high mileage cars is to raise the price of gasoline by $1.00 and REMOVE THE TARIFF FROM ETHANOL SUGAR IMPORTS.

You do not need lots of new laws- lots of new officials to enforce those laws- lots of forms and procedures to fill out and follow- lots of lawsuits.

All you need is a simple $1 per gallon additional tax.

Re:Oh for the love of..... (1)

bnenning (58349) | about 8 years ago | (#16149353)

That's less effective than increasing the cost of gasoline, which is more market-based as a solution.

Agreed. Fuel economy standards attack the problem indirectly, and they encourage car sellers and buyers to find loopholes rather than actually reducing emissions. For example, SUVs came about because they could be classified as trucks under CAFE standards. Directly taxing the activity with negative externalities removes the possibility of these loopholes. If you're concerned about the regressive nature of gas taxes, then cut payroll or sales taxes to compensate.

However, I, too, feel the pinch between the ascendant right wing and the lunatic left wing. There's not much room for "real" liberals, is there?

As a "classical liberal", I share your pain. I remember when Republicans used to at least pretend to care about limited government, fiscal responsibility, and individual freedom.

Re:Oh for the love of..... (3, Informative)

Darth_brooks (180756) | about 8 years ago | (#16149432)


The real solution from an automotive perspective is to federally mandate gas milage standards


That's already in effect, though in a rather cryptic and ineffective manner. Each automaker has to meet a certain cumulative MPG rating. 1 Ford Festiva @ 40 mpg + 1 Explorer @ 15 mpg = 27.5 mpg average for Ford. That's part of the reason Ford (and GM, and others) produce ungodly ugly, tiny, gas sipping crapmobiles that few people buy. It offsets the effect of the H2's, Escalades, and Expeditions that people are buying. Or at least were buying.

Re:Oh for the love of..... (3, Interesting)

BunnyClaws (753889) | about 8 years ago | (#16149287)

Jeez, sometimes I feel like I am getting squeezed on the far left by goofy loonies like Lockyer and pushed out of the picture by power hungry neocon fundies on the extreme right. What happened to the middle ground where people of reason and careful thought worked through compromise to help advance progress?*/RANT*
I feel your pain. As a conservative (Classical Liberal) I am squeezed out of the picture by the big government spending, constitutional rewriting current Republican administration. On the other hand I am scared off by the equally big government spending, federal government expanding fringe left. Both sides want a big government to force their agenda on the citizens.

Re:Oh for the love of..... (1)

kabocox (199019) | about 8 years ago | (#16149295)

Jeez, sometimes I feel like I am getting squeezed on the far left by goofy loonies like Lockyer and pushed out of the picture by power hungry neocon fundies on the extreme right. What happened to the middle ground where people of reason and careful thought worked through compromise to help advance progress?

Shh, we are hiding. Plus we are mainly a big, but quiet group. We don't make waves so you don't hear from us. I'm personally for what I call conservate ecoism. I don't want what Greens want. I just want cheaper/cleaner/or less power hungery products that do the same things that my current products do. I don't really care about the environment for near religious reasons or just because it looks pretty. I'm just a cheap bastard that wants everything that I buy to last and be efficient.

Political move, nothing more (-1, Troll)

ErikTheRed (162431) | about 8 years ago | (#16149300)

Gee, could the fact that Lockyer is running for Governor against Schwarzenegger and the fact that his polls are in the basement have anything to do with it? Hmmmm....

Get Your Facts Straight (1)

andrewdski (797069) | about 8 years ago | (#16149330)

Lockyer is not running for Governor, he is running for State Treasurer. And an earlier writer asked what Lockyer's take was going to be and if he would buy a Bentley. The answer is zero (dollars) and no, no Bentley. He is the attorney general of California, and is suing on behalf of the state. (He will of course, get some political benefits, so the post about running for governor is on the right track in that sense.)

Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16149320)

> While we are talking lawsuit, what's the logical argument/premise going to be for filing the suit? If we hold the automobile manufacturers responsible then what of the users of their products?

Why not? We make gun manufacters responsible for how there product is used...

Re:Oh for the love of..... (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 8 years ago | (#16149325)

Effectively- they ARE suing users of the vehicles.

Because in the end- that's who will pay an extra $500 to $1000 per car- not the automakers- not the executives- maybe some employees will be cut tho. So okay- drivers and auto employees are going to be screwed by this lawsuit in the end.

Re:Oh for the love of..... (3, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 8 years ago | (#16149397)

While we are talking lawsuit, what's the logical argument/premise going to be for filing the suit? If we hold the automobile manufacturers responsible then what of the users of their products? Are you going to say that the drivers of such automobiles are "addicted", so by their logic are immune to prosecution?

Disclaimer: I'm a environmentalist and believe in anthropogenic global warming. I think this is retarded.

You're absolutely right, it's not like anyone is physically addicted to the Chevy Suburban. Maybe they can't mentally shake the cultural effect that says they have to have a big shiny phal^H^H^H^H car to prove their status in society, but that sounds like their problem. If Californians think SUVs are harmful, then stop buying them you superficial idiots!

I'm not getting the basis for the suit. Have the auto makers broken any laws?

It says in the article that they're alleging "damages" from greenhouse gasses. Well we've known pollution was harmful to varying extents since the beginning of the industrial age, and have accepted that we're going to have it to one degree or another. When we think that degree should be less, then we pass a law that requires reduced emissions. That's what has been going on for years, what California has spearheaded and their new law addresses... So what the hell else do you want the auto makers to do? ICEs produce greenhouse gasses. They always have.

If you could prove the auto makers hid research on the dangers of car exhaust, or produced fake research showing it to be harmless, you may have something, but even then if they abided by emissions standards I just can't see the problem.

But this is California, after all. Progressive, trendy, often superficial, and, oh yeah, packed to the gills with lawyers.

Ford and GM (-1, Offtopic)

eipgam (945201) | about 8 years ago | (#16149129)

Let's try and kick Ford whilst it's down shall we? I'm sure they'd welcome the chance to waste money on legal fees rather than attempting to turn around the company.

Re:Ford and GM (2, Funny)

russ1337 (938915) | about 8 years ago | (#16149169)

But think.. If California looses it will be proof that global warming is a myth!

Ford needs a kick (1)

tentimestwenty (693290) | about 8 years ago | (#16149422)

American auto makers are so far behind the rest of the world and not just in emissions. A good kick in the ass is just what they need to make better cars and stay in business!

Political statement only (4, Insightful)

Kelson (129150) | about 8 years ago | (#16149132)

Speaking as a a Californian of the (at least by today's standards) liberal persuasion... this suit is insane.

If you can't convince the federal government that there's a significant causal connection between vehicle emissions and global warming, you're not likely to be able to convince a judge.

Besides, the state just passed a law to enforce stricter emissions standards. Given the size of the market and the state's car culture, that alone will have far more effect than this lawsuit.

As for reasons, I think we need look no further than the fact that we have an election coming up in less than two months.

Re:Political statement only (1)

kfg (145172) | about 8 years ago | (#16149200)

Speaking as a a Californian of the (at least by today's standards) liberal persuasion... this suit is insane.

If you think its insane now, just wait until they name themselves in the suit for operating a Department of Motor Vehicles and a Department of Transportation, cutting the automakers affirmative defense out from under them.

KFG

*smug grin* (4, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | about 8 years ago | (#16149142)

The targeted automakers are Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., Toyota Motor Corp., Chrysler Motors Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co.

Yeah, I always knew my Kia was safe for the environment.

Re:*smug grin* (1)

kaufmanmoore (930593) | about 8 years ago | (#16149211)

Same with Mack trucks, those must be safe for the environment as well.

Re:*smug grin* (2, Informative)

Hillgiant (916436) | about 8 years ago | (#16149302)

Run it on B20 biodiesel, and you have cut the (net) carbon dioxide emissions by 20%.

Re:*smug grin* (1)

pizzaman100 (588500) | about 8 years ago | (#16149321)

And H1s built prior to 1999.

Re:*smug grin* (1)

OakDragon (885217) | about 8 years ago | (#16149213)

I notice AMC is not listed. Time to get the Hornet out and dust off the cobwebs!

Re:*smug grin* (2, Funny)

NiceRoundNumber (1000004) | about 8 years ago | (#16149340)

The targeted automakers are Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., Toyota Motor Corp., Chrysler Motors Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co.

So in other words, they're saying the Ford Focus (26/34mpg), GM Chevy Cobalt (25/34), Toyota Prius (60/51), Chrysler Sebring (22/30), Honda Insight (60/66), and Nissan Sentra (28/35) are bad for the environment?

No, I suppose they're referring to the Ford Expedition (14/17mpg), GMC Yukon (13/17), Toyota Land Cruiser (13/17), Chrysler 300C/SRT-8 (14/20), Honda Ridgeline (16/21), and Nissan Titan (14/18).

They may have a point.

Re:*smug grin* (1)

Daemonstar (84116) | about 8 years ago | (#16149377)

Volkswagon isn't listed, either; guess my diesel Jetta is eco friendly, according to CA, anyway.

Countersue (4, Funny)

srmalloy (263556) | about 8 years ago | (#16149145)

The automakers should countersue the California Legislature on the grounds that the emission of carbon dioxide, a known greenhouse gas, by the California state government constitutes the same harm to the resources, infrastructure and environmental health, demanding that the members of the California government cease respiration immediately as mitigation of this harm.

Re:Countersue (2, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | about 8 years ago | (#16149345)

> The automakers should countersue the California Legislature on the grounds that the emission of carbon dioxide, a known greenhouse gas, by the California state government constitutes the same harm to the resources, infrastructure and environmental health, demanding that the members of the California government cease respiration immediately as mitigation of this harm.

I'm confused. Why are we worried about the CO2, when it's the methane that's the problem?

And isn't the bigger greenhouse problem the methane coming from bullshit spewing out of their mouths?

Which reminds me... Once upon a time, bullshit came out of a bull's ass, and horseshit came out of a horse's ass. Life was simple.

Two years ago, in an election-year fit of pique, California voters passed a $3B stem cell [smartvoter.org] research bill, and now look at us. All we have to show for our $3B is a bunch of genetically-enhanced horses' asses that can switch between spewing bullshit and horseshit, out of either their asses or their asses' mouths. And we gave them all the keys to the Treasury.

Tip the United States on its left, and everything loose lands in California.

If I were an automaker... (2, Insightful)

geistbear (51242) | about 8 years ago | (#16149146)

I'd refuse to see another vehicle to state agency.

Re:If I were an automaker... (1)

geistbear (51242) | about 8 years ago | (#16149190)

er see = sell...

Have the guts to sue the drivers (2, Interesting)

geoffrobinson (109879) | about 8 years ago | (#16149149)

Cars don't pollute by themselves.

And great timing for the American auto industry btw. Maybe left-leaning interest groups (unions and environmental groups) could coordinate with each other.

Re:Have the guts to sue the drivers (2, Interesting)

Ryan Mallon (689481) | about 8 years ago | (#16149374)

Not sure why the parent is modded as flamebait since he/she has a valid point. Cars do not cause pollution all by themselves. As far as I know car manufacturors do not fuel cars up when they are built so they are most probably not even capable of causing pollution when they leave the factory.

Like the parent said, if you want to target someone then target the drivers (obviously not the most popular opinion). They are willingly and deliberately driving a vehicle which they know causes pollution. Im not saying that this should be done, just that it makes about as much sense as what California is attempting to do.

First, you have to prove (-1, Troll)

Mycroft_514 (701676) | about 8 years ago | (#16149150)

that global warming actually exists. Which has not been done yet (Definitely not to the legal level of proof).

Then you have to prove that the automakers are deliberatley causing Global Warming.

In a rational court, this suit would get laughed out in less than a minute.

And exactly who is going to pay for this suit if it does go thru? Why you and me buying our cars! Yeah, thanks Lockyear, drive up new car prices and tax us that way.

Re:First, you have to prove (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16149208)

Thanks Mycroft, you assinine right-wing troll.

Re:First, you have to prove (1)

loraksus (171574) | about 8 years ago | (#16149304)

To be specific, you have to prove this to a jury which is probably composed partially of people who didn't finish high school. I'd argue that this is much, much easier.
I'm actually surprised this hasn't been quashed by arnie.

Re:First, you have to prove (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16149328)

First, Lockyer is planning a run for state treasurer. Go figgure.

Second, global warming is confirmed scientific dogma according to all those fit to judge, if you believe the major news outlets.

Third, I have a hunch this just might wind up in the 9th Circus Court of Appeals where anything can happen.

Consumers are going to have to pay a high price to deal with the global warming issue no matter what happens.

First part is EASY. Second part is hard. (3, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | about 8 years ago | (#16149404)

First, you have to prove that global warming actually exists. Which has not been done yet (Definitely not to the legal level of proof).

Actually, that part's pretty easy. The burden of legal proof is a little lower of a bar than the proof to ideologues and an uninformed public. That global temperatures over the past two centuries exhibit and upwards trend is pretty much proven. That atmospheric CO2 levels are tightly correlated to global temperature is pretty much proven. A mechanism to explain this is proven. That we have more C02 in the atmosphere than at any time in the past 800,000 years is pretty much proven.

Then you have to prove that the automakers are deliberatley causing Global Warming.

Ah, now THAT's where the lawsuit fails. You have to prove malice or negligence, and I think the burden of proof for THAT is where the bar is going to be set higher than they can reach, especially when the federal government does not consider CO2 to be a pollutant.

Ultimately, in the case of the auto industry, the problem is that the market does not want to pay higher prices for environmentally-friendly technologies, and there is no previous government mandate to only offer models that reduce emissions. Given that all they are doing is offering the option to be a bad citizen instead of forcing polluting vehicles on consumers, I don't see that liability can be proven.

Nuisance Suits for Dummies? (4, Funny)

Keith Russell (4440) | about 8 years ago | (#16149154)

Let me see if have this straight...

  1. Set the highest standards for emission controls in the nation.
  2. Sue the Big Six for not exceeding those standards.
  3. ???
  4. Profit!

If the complaint names specific instances where the auto industry refused to comply with CA's standards, I don't blame the AG for filing the suit. Otherwise, I agree with the "nuisance suit" response.

Re:Nuisance Suits for Dummies? (2, Insightful)

giminy (94188) | about 8 years ago | (#16149363)

Parent is probably the best summary of the case here.

The Sovereign State of California set standards for what it determined to be healthy levels of pollution from automobiles. It then enforced those standards and required auto makers to meet the requirements, allowing them to do business in the state when they did. Now it is suing the auto makers because...?

In reality, it should be the People vs. the State for determining the incorrect levels of pollution that are deemed 'healthy.' There might actually be a case, there, too, now that the State of California, by way of this suit, is admitting that its own standards are/have been inadequate. All the citizen-folk have to do is search through public records for proof that the state knew this and refused to act on it.

Sometimes it's better to not put a fence around a pit because doing so only shows that you knew the danger and didn't do enough to fix it.

Re:Nuisance Suits for Dummies? (2, Insightful)

loraksus (171574) | about 8 years ago | (#16149368)

This will probably end up in a settlement, and in it, the car makers will pledge to do x,y,z in terms of emissions, etc.
Just like pretty much every case where a telecomm company was sued by the state for screwing consumers "we'll bring out dsl to smalltown, oregon by 2007" etc.
Nuisance, but sometimes the states "negotiate" this way.

Well (-1, Flamebait)

photozz (168291) | about 8 years ago | (#16149159)

What can you expect of a state that elects the Terminator for Governor.

While I am all for reducing greenhouse gases... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16149160)

and such, this is the wrong way about it.

If you don't like the auto industry, use public transportation more. Ride a bike. Even a Segway! Buy a hybrid.

This is just seems like the wrong way of doing it.

Then again, it IS coming out of California :)

Re:While I am all for reducing greenhouse gases... (1, Insightful)

eln (21727) | about 8 years ago | (#16149218)

The right way to do it is for the federal government to stop subsidizing oil companies and start subsidizing zero-emission cars. If the government would put money into research of zero-emission vehicles, and then subsidize the purchase of said vehicles so they cost about the same as any other car, this whole problem could be fixed in a couple of decades. Unfortunately, that's not what the lobbyists want.

Re:While I am all for reducing greenhouse gases... (2, Insightful)

Kelson (129150) | about 8 years ago | (#16149254)

Buy a hybrid.

And yet for some reason, the suit includes Toyota, which pioneered the marketing of hybrid cars in the US, and Honda, which produces hybrid versions of some of their more popular models.

Unintended consequences (3, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 8 years ago | (#16149181)

Congratulations, jackass: you just gave the largest industrial manufacturers in the world every reason to spend billions to convince everyone that global warming doesn't exist. Think the anti-intellectual movement is bad now? Wait until GM's "Chicken Little" series of advertisements encourages SUV owners to run over anyone carrying a book.

Un-frickin'-believable. If you thought major corporations were bad before, see what happens when you give them an enormous financial incentive to be even worse.

Re:Unintended consequences (1)

kabocox (199019) | about 8 years ago | (#16149362)

Congratulations, jackass: you just gave the largest industrial manufacturers in the world every reason to spend billions to convince everyone that global warming doesn't exist. Think the anti-intellectual movement is bad now? Wait until GM's "Chicken Little" series of advertisements encourages SUV owners to run over anyone carrying a book.

Un-frickin'-believable. If you thought major corporations were bad before, see what happens when you give them an enormous financial incentive to be even worse.


You know what's really bad? It would be cheaper long term for the manufacturers to spend 1-2 billion improving the average understanding of science in the US. I read http://www.seedmagazine.com/news/2006/09/putting_h is_money_where_his_ma.php [seedmagazine.com] article today about a Math Billionaire that is trying to get Math People that have BS or Masters in Math actually teaching math and paid alot doing it. He was trying for 1.6 Billion for Federal money trying to expand his program nation wide. What if our really cool leading edge companies required their best R&D people to teach one year or one class at their local highschool? Would it increase interest in science? Hopefully.

This is completely pathetic and stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16149192)

I really would love all of those automakers to quit selling cars in california, then they will sue the horse owners for producing large amounts of methane from the horse dung. End of Rant, it ain't worth the effort.

Good Idea, Take One Step Further (3, Insightful)

Shihar (153932) | about 8 years ago | (#16149194)

This is a good initial first step, but I think that what they really need to do is go after the REAL culprits. Cut the middlemen of the car and energy companies and go right for the villains. I think that they should simply sue everyone with a car. Hell, just sue every single human that uses energy that might have come from a coal plant too. This way, not only are they going after the real villains, but the lawyers have that many more targets to go after... and in the end, isn't targets for lawyers, err the environment, what this is really all about?

This is stupid. We live in a free market democracy. If you don't like what the car makers are doing either A) don't buy from them or B) use the power of democracy to force them to change. There isn't even the semblance of an excuse for this sort of bullshit. We have two completely effective ways of dealing with the problem.

Nothing is more sad and pathetic then when lunatic fringe groups and lawyers team up. I am all for tougher regulation and applying a higher price to people dumping CO2 into the communal air, but this is NOT the way. This is just stupid.

Re:Good Idea, Take One Step Further (1)

c0d3h4x0r (604141) | about 8 years ago | (#16149399)

Cut the middlemen of the car and energy companies and go right for the villains. I think that they should simply sue everyone with a car.

Your joking suggestion isn't far off, though.

The problem today is that things detrimental to the environment are often not detrimental to the pocketbook. Businesses pollute, drivers pollute, people don't recycle, etc, all because it costs them nothing (financially) to do it.

Al Gore's got it right: we need to shift the taxation system in this country so that earnings aren't taxed, but pollution and other harmful things are taxed instead. Tax the things you want to discourage, and don't tax the things you want to encourage. Pretty sensible. You just have to make sure to apply the tax to businesses and individuals alike.

I'm sueing (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16149195)

Slashdot for losing my job in the office

awesome (1)

Nate Fox (1271) | about 8 years ago | (#16149197)

and I'm gonna sue the state for making it so fscking hard to buy a house here!

Not the cars, but the roads (0, Offtopic)

Sefi915 (580027) | about 8 years ago | (#16149202)

Who is going to sue California for employing such fucktastically retarded engineers to design their highway system?

Please note! I do not live in California, but I know quite a few people who do and speak to them regularly during their hour plus commutes.

Re:Not the cars, but the roads (1)

pete6677 (681676) | about 8 years ago | (#16149367)

The California voters should get together and file a class action suit against their government on the grounds of extreme stupidity. Oh wait, they were the ones who elected these morons. I guess they'll just have to sue themselves.

On the face it sounds insane... (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 years ago | (#16149207)

...but automakers have been doing all they can to avoid complying with legislation already passed in California that restricts emissions. If they don't want to comply with the law, why not go after them? Corporations don't have a god-given right to profit even if it means destroying our environment, which our dependence on fossil fuels is certainly contributing to. (I know there are a lot of you naysayers; that's nice, go bother someone else. Our industry and machinery puts out several times the CO2 output of volcanoes every year, and we believe that volcanoes have a measurable effect; that means that we must necessarily also have a measurable effect.)

Anyway, we the people power the government (through taxes) that enables these corporations to even exist. Why should the government (ostensibly though usually not literally the voice of the people) permit them to pollute, harming us all?

Germany is amusingly one of the few countries who have their act together on this, because their political process apparently actually works and allowed their Green party to gain power. Now, many industries there (and eventually, all of them) are being held responsible for their output, as should we all.

Re:On the face it sounds insane... (1)

kfg (145172) | about 8 years ago | (#16149323)

Germany is amusingly one of the few countries who have their act together on this. . .

By using reunification to jigger a sweetheart deal out of Kyoto.

Why yes, I am a tree hugging, bicycle rider who doesn't even own a car. How much am I going to get sued for; for my increased CO2 output while riding? Protecting the environment is one thing, being doofyassed is another.

KFG

Money would do what? (1)

daeg (828071) | about 8 years ago | (#16149209)

What would they do with the money? Burning greenbacks likely pollutes more than burning oil...

Next candidates for lawsuit... (2, Funny)

rdean400 (322321) | about 8 years ago | (#16149216)

The dairy industry: Happy cows come from California, but so do a significant portion of cow farts, which have been shown to contribute a significant amount of methane to the atmosphere.

The heating and cooling industry: all that waste heat from AC and furnace gets radiated into the environment, contributing to warmer temperatures.

The taxpayer industry: all those nasty humans breathe out CO2. They are responsible for a significant portion of Carbon Dioxide emissions.

I applaud you, old home state of California. (1)

Avillia (871800) | about 8 years ago | (#16149217)

You will now waste millions of the dollars of the rich in a fraud of the justice system to make a point.

fight warming (2, Funny)

cool_arrow (881921) | about 8 years ago | (#16149222)

My mother-in-law does her part to combat global warming by running her air conditioning 24 hours a day with all the exterior doors in the house wide open. We need more concerned citizens like her ; )

they are no better... (2, Insightful)

MrFebtober (922100) | about 8 years ago | (#16149223)

...than PETA, it would seem. I lost respect for PETA long ago because of their shenanigans and now I think I'm feeling the same way about the Sierra Club.

Ha ha ha (1)

pembo13 (770295) | about 8 years ago | (#16149237)

You Americans and your lawsuits. What will you sue for next?

Wouldn't it make more sense to tax (1)

Snarfangel (203258) | about 8 years ago | (#16149239)

rather than sue? If you sue automakers, the best you'll get is a one-time payoff. Taxes, though, can stretch on forever.

I'm disappointed that our elected officials are missing such an obvious cash cow.

Re:Wouldn't it make more sense to tax (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 8 years ago | (#16149316)

If you sue automakers, the best you'll get is a one-time payoff. Taxes, though, can stretch on forever."

But, remember, a corporation really pays NO taxes....you tax it...it just raises the price of its products to cover the increased cost. The tax is then actually paid by the consumer/citizen.

Wow... (1)

John Betonschaar (178617) | about 8 years ago | (#16149241)

This is just unbelievable. Unbelievably brain-dead that is. I mean, where do they find these people?? While I'm all for energy conservation, alternative fuels, etc. this must be one of the stupidest lawsuits ever. Why not sue gas stations for providing the gasoline, the government for building the roads to drive the cars on, the people who buy these cars and use them. You know what? Why not sue the whole frickin world while your at it?? You know, all of the earths inhabitants, who have been collectively ruining it since the industrial revolution...

Hypocrites (3, Interesting)

greg1104 (461138) | about 8 years ago | (#16149243)

The only way I would accept this suit as being appropriate is if everyone involved in this case rides a bike or walks to work.

That sound... (1)

RyoShin (610051) | about 8 years ago | (#16149255)

It's as if millions of lawyers cried out in glee, and were suddenly silenced as they set about filling out paperwork.

wow... beyond retarded (1)

loraksus (171574) | about 8 years ago | (#16149264)

They should have fun proving that global warming actually exists and that it is the result of cars. Then again, we are talking about an American jury.

Who's throwing stones? (1)

eggfoolr (999317) | about 8 years ago | (#16149266)

This has to be a joke... no? OK, who's going to sue the State of California for their policy for attracting business to the State that contribute to global warming? Another only in America (or maybe just California)

automakers... (1)

f0d0 (140677) | about 8 years ago | (#16149274)

Make sure they won't sue you! (rpm -e `rpm -qa|grep automake`)

fscking attorney general... (3, Insightful)

Etherwalk (681268) | about 8 years ago | (#16149276)

trying to get money for the state and look `good,' get his name in the papers. After the NY+ Suit against the RIAA, this is the next step. It should be listened to for five minutes in case they have evidence that the auto makers are being intentionally negligent or are working to alter perception of scientific truth (which should be a crime in this case, not that Cali should get money for it,) and then it should be tossed out with a hefty fine to California for trying to tax the rest of the country. Which is what this is. That's right, California's DA is trying to tax everyone who owns a car the cost of one massive settlement + one settlement's lawyers. Given the state of the American auto industry, that's downright criminal.

Car pollution that serious? (2, Funny)

dtfinch (661405) | about 8 years ago | (#16149283)

If you've ever driven through California along the I-5, you might notice that an enormous amount of air pollution is caused by the cattle industry. Methane is third major greenhouse gas, after water vapor and CO2. The ground water in many areas is undrinkable. I think livestock tax would go a long way to solving their problems.

But livestock taxes, gas taxes, and emission fines (that hurt poor people, who drive older cars) would negatively affect the governor's approval rating.

And a major component of city smog is ozone, which they would have even more of if they switched from gas cars to hybrid or electric. It's hard to blame car makers for that.

Disclaimer: I don't live in California anymore.

Re:Car pollution that serious? (2, Funny)

srmalloy (263556) | about 8 years ago | (#16149327)

You'd never get a tax on livestock because of their greenhouse gas emissions passed in Texas; I'd bet that the legislature would construe that as 'defamation of beef', which Texas has laws against...

This is the Colbert Repor.... (2, Funny)

nextdrewsaid (998835) | about 8 years ago | (#16149285)

I really and truly can not wait until Steven Colbert pulls CA apart for this on "The Word" *ding*

Jesus Tapdancing Christ... (0)

jpellino (202698) | about 8 years ago | (#16149291)

As Fred Allen said years ago, whenever this country gets rattled, anything with a screw loose rolls into California.

Someone's going to pay to clean it all up anyway, what good does a lawsuit do beside make lawyers richer?

The Sierra Club caused the levies to fall... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16149310)

The Sierra Club suing the Govt and making life for the Army Corp of Engineers is why the levie improvement projects never went through...

"Save the animals... save the animals... save the algae... save the swamp..."

These sierra club hippies are directly responsible for every death in the Katrina hurricane. Somehow, this stupid lawsuit will have similiar impact.

"California" is not "State of California" (0)

NRAdude (166969) | about 8 years ago | (#16149315)

Get a grip, people.

It is unlawful to create a state within a state.

I did not isSue any tort claim to Ford, General Motors, et al.

I ride a bicycle at the most, and walk at the least.

Unless... does that lawsuit imply that Californians (nationals, not California itself) have overlooked a trustee in "State of California" to sue on behalf of Californians?

In any event, pull the employees of that corporation/STATE OF CALIFORNIA into the District Court for lack of a trust to sue on behalf, or at least for their not having a controlling interest or so.

Of'course, that commonly issued CERTIFICATE of TITLE is not the senior claim to the property: one needs the Manufacturer's Statement/Certificate of Origin (aka MSO or MCO) to have senior claim/controlling interest and own/trust (ones behalf) to minister property by right of way on the common ways as a not-for-hire and non-commercial and private helmsman.

This is about getting to know who in the State of California is to SUE on one's behalf. Consider a Disappointment from their Office of Trust. Consider the qualifications from which the presumption of trust to that State of California is known by admiralty/corporation venue STATUTES:

STATUTES OF CALIFORNIA

Passed At The

REGULAR SESSION OF THE

FORTY-SIXTH LEGISLATURE

1925

CHAPTER 412, pages 833-834

An act to impose a license fee for the transportation of persons or property
for hire or compensation upon public streets, roadways and highways in the
State of California by motor vehicle; to provide for certain exemptions; to
provide for the enforcement of the provisions thereof and for the
disposition of the amounts collected on account of such licenses; to make an
appropriation for the purpose of this act; and to repeal all acts or parts
of acts in conflict herewith.


[ Approved by the Governor May 28, 1925. ]

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

Section 1. The words and phrases used in this act shall for the purposes
of this act, unless the same be contrary to or inconsistent with the
context, be construed as follows:

(a) The phrase "railroad commission certificate" shall be construed to
mean a certificate of public convenience and necessity granted or issued by
the railroad commission of the State of California, authorizing a common
carrier by motor vehicle to operate under the conditions prescribed by said
commission, and shall include all amendments to or changes in such
certificate which may be made by said commission.

(b) The word "operator" shall include all persons, firms, associations and
corporations who operate motor vehicles upon any public highway in this
state and thereby engage in the transportation of persons or property for
hire or compensation
, but shall not include any person, firm, association or
corporation who solely transports by motor vehicle persons to and from or to
or from attendance upon any public school or who solely transports his or
its own property, or employees, or both, and who transports no persons or
property for hire or compensation, but all persons operating freight
carrying so exempted shall be required to obtain from the state board of
equalization and to display exempt emblems in the manner herein provided.

(c) The term "registration certificate" shall include any and all
certificates of registration of a motor vehicle issued by the division of
motor vehicles of the department of finance of the State of California, or
by any governmental body within said state under which the laws of the said
state may have power or authority to register and certify to the
registration of a motor vehicle for operation within said state.

(d) The word "motor vehicle" shall mean and include all vehicles,
automobiles, trucks or trailers operated upon or over public highways of
this state whether the same be propelled or operated by steam or
electricity, or propelled or operated by combustion of gasoline, distillate
or other volatile and inflammable fuels.

BUY A CAR OR ELSE BUB! (1)

Chas (5144) | about 8 years ago | (#16149319)

Yes, I can see that the automakers FORCED people to buy automobiles AT GUNPOINT.

America. Where you can sue anyone for anything. Regardless of how stupid your premise is.

Cars Are Hardly to Blame (1)

ACQ (966887) | about 8 years ago | (#16149329)

I cannot remember the exact numbers, but vehicle emissions count for a VERY small percentage of CO2 in the air. As a matter of fact, structures (i.e. the heating and AC emissions from your house, my house, the local grocery store, your workplace, my workplace, et cetera, ad hominem) put far more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than all the cars on the planet. Again, this looks like another stupid anti-SUV crusade. This time brought forth by who? California! BIG suprise.

Frivolous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16149332)

Next on the docket: the State of California vs. the Dinosuars.

If we didn't have fossil fuels, we wouldn't be having this problem, would we? So let's take those smug Pollutosauruses for all they're worth!

Not The Automakers Fault (1)

robbway (200983) | about 8 years ago | (#16149335)

I know that they make the cars and all, but they don't make us drive them. A long tradition of cars, over 100 years, has molded our society to need them. If you cut all commuting distances by 25%, you will cut automobile emissions from commutes 25%. Our cities are built wrong. If we had taken a clue from Europe, cities would be built around mass-transit. Too late! We need the cars, so the lawsuit is impractical.

For an example, Maryland, where I live passed a law to require locks on all firearms. So now, most people by their hunting guns out-of-state. If you get what you want, CA, then your car dealers will go bankrupt as people go to Nevada to gamble and buy a car.

Now, why can't the country sue California for factory emissions and other pollutants? If they win their car-suit, they will set a precedent that will remove even more money from the state's taxpayers in countersuits.

so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16149337)

IF the big six decides to say "fuck you, we're not selling any more cars in California", you'd be left with some crappy cars or segways.

guess what Hawaii would do (1)

bwy (726112) | about 8 years ago | (#16149347)

I would consider the fact that California is suing the automakers to be quite a show of restraint. Here in Hawaii, they would skip the whole lawsuit step and just outlaw the future sale and existing ownership of the vehicles. We'd all be left to walk or travel via canoe.

Honestly, if the market and available technology can support something different & better, we will find out soon enough. Google's "for profit" charity is going to tackle the issue as one of their first initiatives. If you really can make a car that gets 100mpg, can be mass produced for a fair cost, is safe to drive, and doesn't do harm to the environment in other ways (battery disposal, increased demand on coal power plants, etc.) then I'll be the first to welcome the new G-Car to my driveway.

You drive an SUV? *YOU* are the problem (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16149359)

The problem is not the car companies. The problem is the stupid american people who don't think beofre buying a big gas guzzler. If you don't get at least 30MPG, you are the problem. Why should we people who buy efficient vehicles have to pay extra (from thw lawsuits) for the purchasing habits of idiots?

Also, when will people wake up an realize you can't ever make a "corporation" pay for anything? The costs simply gets passed on to the consumer, which is you and me.

This is great... (4, Insightful)

tx_kanuck (667833) | about 8 years ago | (#16149370)

I actually hope this lawsuit succeeds (wait, hear me out). If it does, then the California government has just opened the door for its citizens to sue them for not providing sufficient public transportation and thereby contributing to greenhouse gasses. They have the means to cut down on the required use of personal vehicles, but have chosen not too make use of that means, therefore they are at fault for requiring people to drive as much as they do.

And before anyone blasts into me that it's too hard to get public transportation working in a major city, look at cities like Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, London, New York, Chicago (ok, Chicago needs help), Tokoyo, and pretty much every European city.

This is great, go for it guys!!! Woohoo. (idiots)

(yes, there is some sarcasm there)

what next? (1)

Oryn (136445) | about 8 years ago | (#16149386)

Cows are a major cause of methane, a so called green house gas.
So are we going to sue them for farting?

Automake? (1)

cxreg (44671) | about 8 years ago | (#16149403)

I knew automake [gnu.org] had problems, but this is just ridiculous

The automakers can pull a Google on California (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 8 years ago | (#16149408)

Will GM et al be the next Google [slashdot.org] ?

"Fine, be that way, no more polluting cars for you! Everyone gets to pay big bucks for a hybrid or go to one of our fine dealerships in a neighboring state. If you let your residents register cars bought out of state that's your fault. So there!"

Some days I'm sad to be a Californian... (1, Insightful)

junk (33527) | about 8 years ago | (#16149410)

This is stupid. Plain and simple. The retarded hippie state that is California thinks way too highly of itself. I know, i live here and deal with these morons every day. (The weather keeps me here.) California is taking it upon itself to sue for a _global_ issue? For some reason some ****tards here think that they are empowered to make this claim? If it were up to the loudest of the environazis, we'd all be walking around barefoot, eating twigs and wearing hemp. I love my dyno powered vehicles. All four of them (not to mention the other two in my household).

If anyone's to blame, it's the consumer. Perhaps the next lawsuit will be us suing ourselves.

California already has it's chance (1)

Original Buddha (673223) | about 8 years ago | (#16149414)

I'd highly recomment seeing the movie "Who killed the Electric Car". California already had their chance to force auto companies to sell ultra low emesion vehicles and they bowed down to them and wouldn't follow through with the laws they previously passed.

Countersuit! (1)

obious (945774) | about 8 years ago | (#16149430)

Automakers should counter sue Californians for using said automobiles to commit said crimes. After all, you don't sue weapons manufacturers for dead people.

It's logical, ain't it? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#16149435)

I mean, you can't simply tax or sue the owners of SUVs who actually buy and use those climate castrastrophies. After all, they just might vote.

This suit will be swatted down like a fly before it even took off. I mean, do you REALLY think there is a court that would issue a verdict against the US car industry? It's almost recovering by now, and there's a lot of jobs hanging on it.
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