Environmental Law

Car Public Nuisance Suit Tossed

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A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the California attorney general that contends six car companies created a public nuisance by making vehicles that produce greenhouse gases.

U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins of San Francisco said the suit would have required him to balance the interest in reducing global warming with the need for economic development, the New York Times reports.

“The court finds that injecting itself into the global warming thicket at this juncture would require an initial policy determination of the type reserved for the political branches of government,” he wrote in his ruling (PDF posted by the Wall Street Journal, sub. req.)

The ruling is “not necessarily at odds” with one last week by a federal judge, who refused to overturn Vermont regulations of greenhouse emissions, the Times says. The Vermont case concerned state regulations rather than a tort suit for damages.

The decisions “collectively suggest that states may address climate change through their legislatures and executive branches but not through the courts,” the Times explained.

The Vermont law was modeled after California greenhouse gas regulations that are being challenged in a separate suit, the Wall Street Journal reports (sub. req.).

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