California sues automakers over greenhouse-gas emissions

California sued the six largest auto manufacturers yesterday, saying that vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions are a public nuisance and seeking compensation for damage to the state’s air, water supplies, coast, forests, wildlife, and people. “Basically, what we are saying is, it’s old-fashioned economics. You should pay for the damage you cause,” said State Attorney General Bill Lockyer, pointing a finger at DaimlerChrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. The companies’ vehicles are responsible for 30 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in California. The automakers argue that they’re already working on clean cars, and say all things climate change should be left to the feds. They also argue that the litigation has no legal merit, but environmental law expert Sean Hecht disagrees: “It’s novel, but based on standard nuisance law, [California] certainly [has] a shot at convincing a judge that the burdens this industry imposes on society are too great.”