Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

California Sues Automakers for Global Warming 725

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the new-revenue-models dept.
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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

California Sues Automakers for Global Warming

Comments Filter:
  • by BWJones (18351) * on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:03PM (#16149110) Homepage Journal
    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*

    • by eln (21727) * on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:09PM (#16149177) Homepage
      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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by LordKronos (470910)
        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".
      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:19PM (#16149288) Journal
        If they win, will the car manufacturers have to buy them a new planet?
      • by BWJones (18351) * on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:19PM (#16149289) Homepage Journal
        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.

      • by PhotoJim (813785) <jim@phot o j im.ca> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:35PM (#16149425) Homepage
        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.
        • by glsunder (241984) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:56PM (#16149616)
          Taxing fuel isn't the best way to go. It mainly hurts the poor and middle class who might not be able to buy a new car. A better way is to tax the poorest performing vehicles in a class and _use_ that money to subsidize the top ones. This way, if someone needs an SUV, they have incentive to buy a high mpg one. You're still allowing people to choose the vehicle type they need -- what if someone has 3 kids that need car seats? They basically can't legally buy and use a compact car. 30 years ago before car seat laws, sure. But not now.

          The other advantage is you create a moving target. A 30 mpg SUV or 50mpg compact car might get a subsidy now, but not in 5 years when the average has been pushed up. No change in the law is needed. Likewise, you're not banning the 10mpg pickup, but the buyer might have to pay $10,000 in extra taxes to buy it. The big key is what comes in must come out (with a reasonable overhead cost). None of that crap where they divert the taxes in to lower housing property tax or give school superintendents a raise.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by thrillseeker (518224)
            Taxing fuel isn't the best way to go. It mainly hurts the poor and middle class who might not be able to buy a new car.

            If taxing the poor and middle class doesn't tckle your fancy then you're saying tax the rich. There's no way around it. But, if only the rich can afford to drive then there's damn little pollution to worry about, is there?
          • by radtea (464814) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @09:28PM (#16150838)
            A better way is to tax the poorest performing vehicles in a class and _use_ that money to subsidize the top ones

            This is one of many solutions to this problem that are, as someone once said, "simple, obvious and wrong."

            Good public policy, like good engineering, measures outcomes, not inputs. I don't care what class of car someone owns. Nor do I care that they are buying a gallon of gas today, which is what a tax on gas measures. Neither of those things has anything necessary connection with how much a person pollutes.

            For example, a friend who lives in California owns an older car. But she drives about two miles every couple of weeks. Regardless, the emissions limits the vehicle has to fufill are based on some presumptive and quite false belief about how far she drives each year. Thus, the outcome we want to limit--high emissions--is estimated via an input--the fact of car ownership and its tailpipe emission levels--and some trivially false assumptions about how much the vehicle will be driven.

            This is the kind of thinking that brought us Three Mile Island, where the engineer who designed the reactor control system thought for some unaccountable reason that the power going to the motor controlling a valve could be used to measure the the state of the valve, thus misleading operators as to the state of the reactor when a valve jammed. This is trivially bad engineering, and likewise trivially bad public policy.

            If it matters, measure it. That is, measure the actual thing, not "something that I think ought to be somehow kinda sorta related to it in my incredibly limited imagination."

            I know damed well I'm not smart enough to figure out an adequate surrogate measure of pollution that takes into account the incredible diversity of human behaviour. Trying to do so is like what the architects of modern security theatre do when they ban an entire state of matter from carry on luggage: they focus exclusively on one particular scenario that "just seems to me" to be the most important one, and ignore all the inconvenient realities.

            The ideal anti-pollution charge is one that is based on actual emissions, not imaginary surrogates. This is both a technological and a political problem. Fixed power plants are easy to monitor. Automobiles could be retrofitted with tailpipe loggers that measured actual emissions, and a charge levied as part of the license fee based on the past year's actual emissions. But even this solution would a) cost more than some people can afford and b) create a cottage industry in tampering with the data.

            The difficulty is that we would like any anti-pollution charge to only kick in above a certain level. We'd like everyone to have a certain amount of polution for free, or at least cheap. That way poor people wouldn't get hit by socially-regressive charges. The only way to do this is to somehow monitor fuel usage, which requires burdens of measurement and monitoring that are unacceptably invasive to many people, especially in the U.S. (although with your government, I can understand that a certain level of paranoia is justified.)
        • by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @06:01PM (#16149658) Journal

          Even better, it could fund the construction of about four or five more clean, safe nuclear power plants so we can remove our dependence on power plants that produce more global warming, e.g. fossil fuel and hydroelectric power plants. (Yeah, that's right. Hydro plants in some cases cause more global warming than fossil fuel plants [newscientist.com] thanks to decaying matter in the holding ponds producing methane.)

          Then, California could mandate that all automobiles be powered off of electrical power using some of the newer, fast-charging batteries. At today's electrical rates, if my math was correct, assuming no conversion loss in the storage process, electric-powered cars would be equivalent to paying $0.125 (12 1/2 cents) per gallon at the pumps. With more nuke plants online, the price of energy would be even cheaper. This would have a significant economic benefit for the state, reducing the cost of consumer goods and driving the economy. This, in turn, would free financial resources that could be used to buy the next crop of automobiles, so in the end, auto manufacturers come out ahead, too.

          Because they don't involve gasoline dispensers, mandatory electric cars (as in 100% of all new vehicles sold must be electric by 2012) would eliminate multiple causes of smog and pollution; not only would you drastically reduce automobile emissions, but you would also drastically reduce evaporation of gasoline vapors, fuel spills, etc. at the pumps. You would also eliminate a major cause of groundwater contamination---specifically, leaking fuel tanks.

          Finally, this would dramatically reduce our state's dependence on oil, which would make us less vulnerable to the goings on in parts of the world where oil is produced. The long-term economic benefits are fairly significant.

          The problem is that in order to remove our dependence on oil, we have to have a replacement. That means that the cost of battery technology needs to drop by a couple orders of magnitude. Volume will achieve this, but only if all car manufacturers are forced to switch by law. otherwise, they will look at the initial cost and say that it is too expensive in the short term, and would harm their ability to compete in the market.

          And solving the battery problem is only one problem. The fact is, we also have aging power grids that haven't been maintained, coupled with a serious lack of generating capacity. Much of this shortage has been the result of environmentalism gone amuck, screaming "not in my backyard" about nuclear plants, all the while promoting things that are much worse for the environment.

          That's what bothers me most about the environmental movement. It always seems to take a knee-jerk approach rather than a studied view of the whole system, and the result is that more often than not, the things that are pushed in the name of environmental reform usually do more harm than good. What we need most is a careful study of our energy policy in CA, a careful study of our generator capacity, and a detailed analysis of how much additional power we need to be able to handle EV cars. Then, we need laws that demand EV cars. It is far easier to control emissions from a few power plants owned by a few companies than to control emissions from a few million automobiles.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            That would work except nuclear power costs more per kilowatt than any other power source except small scale solar once you factor in state and federal subsidies on the industry including cleanup and research dollars. If you build more power plants you're just moving the bill from your electrical bill to your tax bill.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            Just...don't buy an electric car from Dell.
          • by ChrisMaple (607946) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @08:34PM (#16150581)
            You obviously have no idea of the disaster for California that mandatory 100% electric new cars would be. Anyone living more than 30 miles from work, or with a mountain between them and work, would have to move, change jobs, take public transport to work, or own 2 cars (one for each half of the trip.) California would become a mecca for importing used cars and keeping old cars on the road, increasing pollution. A huge disruption in manufacturing technology would be required to support the new technology. The electric grid, already severely strained, would need extensive, expensive upgrades and would break frequently while being changed. Remember, blackouts in California during heat waves means deaths.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by dgatwood (11270)

              That's not true. That would only be true with the original lead acid designs. Here are some other possibilities:

              • Li Ion. Designs with Lithium Ion batteries have more than four times the capacity per kg.
              • Hydrogen fuel cell. Using a hydrogen generator with high pressure gas or liquid H2 tanks, ignoring the extra tank weight, you get three times as far as with gasoline for the same weight.

              You're also assuming old vehicle designs. Those old estimates of 60 minutes per charge were based on standard car

          • by SparkyTWP (556246) <phatcoq @ i n s i g h t b b .com> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @08:40PM (#16150605) Homepage
            For a battery-powered car to carry the same energy as a typical 15 gallon tank, you would need 2000kg of the best performing Li-ion batteries available today (This figure includes the higher efficiency of electric). Your energy figure is also way off (I got about 1/2 the cost of gasoline), but it is definately cheaper.

            I am almost positive car makers know this. The way I see it, the two reasons car makers haven't adopted electric is for two-reasons:
            1. Batteries just aren't high enough capacity. You do not get the range that consumers want.
            2. No one wants to wait 8 hours for their battery to change, especially if they're on the road. I realize that there are now fast-charging Li-ion batteries that can charge in a few minutes, but they are incredibly expensive and hard to make. The best compromise I can think of is if the packs were swappable. So you basically keep the "gas" stations. When you want to charge up, they take out your battery, put in a freshly charged one, you pay your money and off you go.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by arminw (717974)
            .....And solving the battery problem is only one problem......

            Batteries are THE problem. One pound of gasoline stores more energy than 1000 pounds of lead acid battery. Even a battery with 10 times lead acid energy density means it STILL takes 100 pounds of such a battery to contain the same energy. Even IF there were a good battery, what happens when you want to take a 500 mile trip and the battery runs only for 300 miles. How do you charge such a 300 mile battery in any where near a comparable amount of t
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by radtea (464814)
              How do you charge such a 300 mile battery in any where near a comparable amount of time that it now takes to fill a gas tank?

              By swapping out the batteries at the charging station and slotting in freshly charged ones.

              Next question?

              Oh, and there's only a factor of 500 between lead-acid batteries and petrol with regard to energy density, and less than a factor of 50 between lithium batteries and petrol. Still a big gap, but perhaps not entirely insurmountable.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by 808140 (808140)
            I like electric cars too, but at least with current battery technology, battery disposal is a very big problem. They may be cleaner while running, but when it comes time to take them to the dump, electric cars are a major hassle, since we're talking about groundwater contamination.

            Nuclear power plants produce waste too, obviously, but nowhere near as much as disposing of electric cars would. Ironically (for your typical uneducated environmentalist) the batteries are a bigger problem than the waste in your
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Banner (17158)

            Even better, it could fund the construction of about four or five more clean, safe nuclear power plants so we can remove our dependence on power plants that produce more global warming, e.g. fossil fuel and hydroelectric power plants.

            Except that California BANNED Nuclear power plants some time ago. For that matter they've all but banned new power plant construction with I think only one plant being built in like the last twenty years.

            See California expects everyone else to provide them with power (and event

      • by Shihar (153932) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:37PM (#16149440)
        In Soviet Californiastan you don't sue the government for failure to implement pollution controls, the government sues you!
    • by carpeweb (949895) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:14PM (#16149224) Journal
      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?
      • by AuMatar (183847) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:21PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Maxo-Texas (864189)
          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.
          • by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @06:20PM (#16149810) Journal

            And yet, we're still using about as much fuel as before the price hikes.

            The use of fuel is not significantly affected by its price except over the long term. We might see fuel use drop over a ten or fifteen year period, but in that time, the amount of economic harm that high fuel prices has caused will drive our economy into the ground. The secondary effects are huge. My average price for shipping stuff to people has gone through the roof over the last few years. Where before I could afford to buy something for $10 over the Internet and get it shipped for $3.50, these days, I feel like I have to accumulate an order of at least $30 worth of stuff before it is worth the shipping price, as the minimum shipping cost varies from $6.50 to as much as $10, depending on shipper.

            Now bear in mind that these costs don't just affect the cost of finished goods delivery. They affect the cost of shipping parts to the companies that produce the finished goods. They affect the cost of shipping raw materials to the companies that manufacture parts. And so on. This means that everything costs significantly more. For every extra dollar you pay at the pump, you're probably paying $20 in other areas as an indirect result.

            And mildly higher gasoline has not had a dramatic effect on production of true gas guzzlers. They're still cranking out as many tractor trailers and diesel-electric locomotives as before. Cars don't make up the bulk of gasoline use. Fully 31% is used by non-transportation uses alone---natural gas, heating oil, industrial use, and electrical generation. Another 12% is used by freight trucks, 7% by aircraft. A mere 40% is used by passenger vehicles.

            If SUVs make up only 15% of all automobiles sold, even if they use twice as much fuel as another vehicle (and given that they are usually driven shorter distances on average, that's a stretch), they'd be less than 30% of the automotive fuel use. That would mean that if you could get rid of them entirely, you would only cut our fuel use by 12%, but they'd be replaced by something, so you'd really only reduce it by 6%. And those are very generous estimates. A more realistic guess is more like 1-2% decrease.

            Worse, recent studies show that the amount of energy used to manufacture hybrid vehicles is so high that they actually are worse for the environment than SUVs [reason.org].

            Ah, the ironing is delicious.

            • by Software (179033) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @07:11PM (#16150129) Homepage Journal
              From your link: "As for Hummers, Spinella explains, the life of these cars averaged across various models is over 300,000 miles. By contrast, Prius' life - according to Toyota's own numbers - is 100,000 miles."

              Toyota warrantees the batteries on a Prius for 8 years / 80,000 miles. Estimated life of the battery pack is 150,000. Plus, figuring on 300,000 miles on a Hummer is hilarious. I'd be willing to be you couldn't find one Hummer in the world with that mileage. I'd be 99% of them are in the scrap heap with half of that.

              It's not difficult to show a lower cost per mile for the Hummer when you divide the cost by three times the mileage.

            • And yet, we're still using about as much fuel as before the price hikes.

              The phrase you are looking for is 'fungible commodity'.

              In the short term, a certain amount of oil is produced every day, that gets refined into various products.

              There is more than enough demand for oil to use up the supply. That's what establishes the price - if the demand for oil products is too high at a price, the price will go up. If demand at a price is too low, the price will go down.

              So, if you tax oil products, what happens? D
        • by UbuntuDupe (970646) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:36PM (#16149427) Journal
          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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          SUV sales haven't been affected by the price of gasoline? On what planet? Look here http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article ?AID=/20060404/BIZ/604040336/1005 [clarionledger.com] Or here http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/ 20060602/AUTO01/606020398/-1/ARCHIVE [detnews.com] SUV sales have completely tanked which is why GM and Ford are in serious trouble.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Actually, the price of gas is elastic... kinda... there are two conditions:

          1) the price has to get well above $3 per gallon as an average over the entire US (so it should be $4/g in places with traditionally high prices like california).

          2) the price has to stay up that way for a long time (not $3 this month and $2 next). By 'long' I mean 5+ years. Long enough to give consumers the ability to change cars and homes. (running out to purchase a new hybrid does not make short or even medium term financial sense
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by spiritu (8757)
          Your data on SUV sales is utterly incorrect. The data (with links):

          Ford SUV sales lead to loss [ohio.com]: "7/21/2006 - Ford Motor Co. reported an unexpected quarterly loss Thursday as sales of sport-utility vehicles plunged amid rising gasoline prices. The loss threatened Chief Executive Officer William Clay Ford Jr.'s plan to revive the No. 2 U.S. automaker."

          Chrysler has slower truck and SUV sales [thewest.com.au]: "9/18/2006 - DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group said at the weekend it could lose about $US1.27 billion this year, a
      • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:27PM (#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.
      • by Darth_brooks (180756) <clipper377@ g m a i l . com> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:36PM (#16149432) Homepage

        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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BunnyClaws (753889)

      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 h

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:31PM (#16149397) Homepage
      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.
      • by Kelson (129150) * on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @06:17PM (#16149790) Homepage Journal
        If Californians think SUVs are harmful, then stop buying them you superficial idiots!

        You seem to be laboring under the mistaken impression that all 30+ million Californians think and act alike.

        The fact of the matter is that some Californians think SUVs are harmful, and some Californians buy them. Most people who think SUVs are harmful already don't buy them. (Not all -- there are people who think SUVs are harmful in aggregate, but decide that their own use is justified.) The challenge facing those who consider SUVs to be harmful is not to stop buying them -- most of them have already -- but to convince those who do buy SUVs to stop.

    • I'm surprised by how strongly the Slashdot crowd is against this, and how nobody seems to understand the basic economics of it.

      So here is a quick primer on external detrimentalities.

      A for-profit business naturally attempts to maximize its revenues while minimizing costs. One method is to pass (some of) the costs off to someone else. The classic example is a factory pumping its waste into a nearby river, thereby transferring the disposal costs to other people, whose enjoyment of or utility from the river is
  • by Kelson (129150) * on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:05PM (#16149132) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:42PM (#16149486) Homepage
      To be fair, the Federal Government doesn't *want* to be convinced. At least, not with this Administration in power. (Note that it did seem pretty convinced back when Clinton and Gore ran the show. Funny, that.) This lot has a very clear adgenda regarding fossil fuels and anthropogenic global warming hurts their interests, both politcal and personal fiscal. So I don't think you can draw any reasonable conclusions about how strong the case for or against man-made global is by what the Government currently believes (or claims to).

      On the other hand, judges are generally a lot more reasonable in the face of a sensible argument. But convincing the judge that humans are responsible for global warming isn't the trick. Convicing her that the automakers are responsible (and not, say, the people driving the cars) is the real hurdle. And that's also why this suit is so inane: it implicitly tries to shift the blame for global warming to Big Scary Corporations and away from us as individuals. Heavan knows we can't go taking reasponsibility for our own actions.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        And that's also why this suit is so inane: it implicitly tries to shift the blame for global warming to Big Scary Corporations and away from us as individuals. Heavan knows we can't go taking reasponsibility for our own actions.

        Yup, and didn't Arnie play a part in getting the Humvee available as a civilian vehicle?

        This suit is like saying that McDonalds is responible for people not watching their diet.
  • *smug grin* (Score:5, Funny)

    by UbuntuDupe (970646) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:06PM (#16149142) Journal
    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.
    • Same with Mack trucks, those must be safe for the environment as well.
    • by OakDragon (885217)
      I notice AMC is not listed. Time to get the Hornet out and dust off the cobwebs!
    • .... to see Honda and Toyota on that list. Those two, in particular, seem to be taking the initiative in flooding us with nice little fuel-efficent compacts. Good on them, I say.

      Every third or fourth Toyota I see, it seems these days, is a Prius. I walk past two on the way to the bus stop every morning for work. Half of what's left are Scions of one flavor or an other; not exactly slouches mileage-wise themselves. And last I heard, they were putting the Prius' hybrid system into a Camrey and licensing
  • Countersue (Score:5, Funny)

    by srmalloy (263556) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:06PM (#16149145) Homepage
    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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tackhead (54550)
      > 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

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

  • by geoffrobinson (109879) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:07PM (#16149149) Homepage
    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.
  • by Keith Russell (4440) * <keith.russellNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:07PM (#16149154) Journal

    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by giminy (94188)
      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 b
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by loraksus (171574)
      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.
  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:09PM (#16149181) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by Shihar (153932) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:11PM (#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.
    • by Uukrul (835197) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @06:29PM (#16149860)
      This is stupid. We live in a free market democracy.
      A free market democracy where you can contaminate my air and you don't pay me in return isn't a free market at all.
      Air is not used as a product of a free market, so laws that apply to it must be different from laws that apply to other "products".

      The day you put your car in a plastic bag (and the head, and the chemical plant, etc. ) and you pay for every cubic meter that you use I will agree with you, until then well come to a communist market: air.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AK Marc (707885)
      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.

      I'd be interested in what a Libertarian would say about this. For one, they believe in pretty much complete personal freedom, but the right to extending your fist stopping at my nose i
  • and I'm gonna sue the state for making it so fscking hard to buy a house here!
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:12PM (#16149207) Homepage Journal

    ...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.

    • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:39PM (#16149458) Homepage Journal
      ...but automakers have been doing all they can to avoid complying with legislation already passed in California that restricts emissions.

      Sounds like a governmental problem to me. If the manufacturers are avoiding the limits by legal means, then the legislature screwed up. If they're avoiding the limits by illegal means, then law enforcement has screwed up. Either way, it appears to be easier for California to sue someone than to admit that their lawmakers and/or cops are ineffectual.

    • Well that's fine (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)
      If they fail to comply with California law California can simply ban the sale of their products there. That's what happened with things like guns. There are types of guns that are legal to buy here in Arizona that aren't in California. That's fine. However it seems this would be a case of California wanting to go after the gun makers because the sell those guns in Arizona, where it's legal.

      The problem is that they want to have their cake and eat it too. They want these cars, but want them to meet standards
  • What would they do with the money? Burning greenbacks likely pollutes more than burning oil...
  • by rdean400 (322321) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:13PM (#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.
  • 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 ; )
  • Hypocrites (Score:3, Interesting)

    by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:15PM (#16149243) Homepage
    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.
  • by Etherwalk (681268) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:18PM (#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.
  • by dtfinch (661405) * on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:19PM (#16149283) Journal
    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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by srmalloy (263556)
      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...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:28PM (#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... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tx_kanuck (667833) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:29PM (#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)
  • Disgraceful (Score:3, Funny)

    by mkiwi (585287) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @05:38PM (#16149450)
    california, wtf, retarded (tagging beta)


    Whoever did that- It is an insult to retarded people everywhere.

  • by John Jorsett (171560) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @06:04PM (#16149686)
    Lockyer's termed-out this year and he's running for State Treasurer. This lawsuit is his way of getting his name in the media for free. Given the reaction I'm seeing here even from liberals, it might not have been the best idea he's ever had.

  • by Trespass (225077) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @06:30PM (#16149873) Homepage
    They should sue themselves for being an affluent consumer society with a decentralized infrastructure. While they're at it, they should make being a smug materialist illegal as well.
  • by jqstm (703262) <<moc.liamtoh> <ta> <nitramtsqj>> on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @06:38PM (#16149928)
    California is missing the mark by going after auto makers. It should go after the real culprit here, carbon dioxide itself. We need to sue CO2 to stop its heat trapping ways! I see no other way to control this defiant and self-serving molecule.
  • by kuriharu (756937) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @06:52PM (#16150022)
    Thanks to the gov't of California for absolving me of responsibility! It's my CAR that's polluting, not me for driving it! Thanks for suing Ford, et al instead of making me, the driver, the guilty party! Time to fill up and drive 500 miles tonight in celebration!
  • Impressive Spin (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xiroth (917768) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @06:56PM (#16150042)
    Huh. Going from the comments here, this has been given such a cunning spin that even most people here are fooled by it.

    Let's make it a little bit more clear. California are not launching the lawsuit on the basis that "They're producing too much greenhouse gases". They're launching it on the basis that the automakers are not complying with regulations laid down by the Californian government - regulations which have been tied up by multiple lawsuits from the involved automakers. This is a countersuit - an attempt to get the courts on the government's side so that the automakers have nowhere left to turn and have to comply if they are to continue selling in the state. By most people's estimations, a government forcing companies to comply with their laws for the good of its constituents is fine and entirely within their right, but even most people who would have no problems with it when laid out like that are arguing against it here because it's been presented just so.

    A very impressive (and simple, too) piece of spin - technically true, and makes the other party look like a fool.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jkrausyao (151562)
      The automakers are not complying with the disputed California laws because they are not valid. They are not valid because California lacks jurisdiction to make these laws since they involve interstate commerce. The different levels of government have different areas of responsibility. For goods that are traded globally it is not efficient for local governments to be involved in setting standards. This is one of the main advantages of international trade agreements, removing from local governments the settin
  • by Spiked_Three (626260) on Wednesday September 20, 2006 @08:46PM (#16150636)
    This reminds me of another major government cover-up lately.

    Remember the recent tobacco settlements? Billions of dollars the government is seizing from the evil tobacco manufacturers in order to protect us? Does anyone think the government didn't know about what was going on all along? So they ignore their own medical experts, pass laws to support and tax tobacco companies and all of sudden when the public finally figures it out, the government jumps in to protect us. They were the chief business partner of the tobacco companies. And yet most Americans think the settlement was fair. The Government, who profited enormously from the tobacco companies and knew all along it was hurting us, suddenly becomes our defender and takes more money from the tobacco companies. It's hypocritical political slimery.

    This California thing sounds just like it. The auto manufacturers all meet the laws on the books. They in good faith work to reduce pollution and succeed. And now all of a sudden the government sues them because what they have been doing all along isn't enough. Does anyone alive think that California government should NOT be listed as a defendant in this case? Seems they are guilty of the exact same actions as those they are accusing.

    Ah what the heck does it matter? Americas Government system is at a point of meltdown. Corruption, extremist, intentional public lying - we can't be far from a revolution.
  • by JohnsonWax (195390) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:53AM (#16151838)
    The lawsuit is about the fuel efficiency and emissions standards. California sued the federal government as well over these issues.

    Essentially what California is trying to do is to get the auto makers to support these standards, to get them to oppose the federal government's efforts to prohibit the states from setting their own standards (basically making LA look like some non-class-M planet from Star Trek again).

    So far, Toyota and Honda have been generally supportive of California's efforts (basically, they're sufficiently on top of things that they figure any technology rush to meet these standards will mean marketshare for them - Ford and GM would be about as fucked as you can possibly be). But the others are lobbying Congress to pass legislation to block California's existing laws and any new ones. The suit is designed to attach a cost to auto makers for doing this.

    Think of it this way, a judge won't find for the state for the mere fact that cars pollute. A judge may find for the state if the automakers collectively conspire to undermine regulation that would reduce pollution.

Blinding speed can compensate for a lot of deficiencies. -- David Nichols

Working...