Automakers should drop appeal of emissions suit, Lynch says

John O'Brien Dec. 11, 2008, 3:11pm


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Legal Newsline) - Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch thinks the financially strapped automobile industry should stop fighting new emissions standards while it asks for a federal bailout.

Lynch is part of a group of state attorneys general that seeks to hold the automobile industry's emission requirements to a higher standard. He said Chrysler and General Motors should drop their recently filed appeal of a federal court decision that allows states to adopt stronger emissions standards than the Federal Government requires.

"(Wednesday) afternoon, as GM's and Chrysler's CEOs were committing to Congress to restructuring their companies to make greener and cleaner cars, their lawyers were announcing that the companies were, in fact, appealing the decision that dismissed their challenges to Rhode Island's more stringent clean car standards," Lynch said.

"As much as I appreciate how crucial the auto industry is to our national and state economies, if this is not an example of an industry talking out of both sides of its mouth at the same time, I don't know what is."

Seven state attorneys general wrote to Congress in November, urging lawmakers to force tougher emissions requirements on the companies asking for federal money. Chrysler, GM and Ford are seeking $14 billion in federal loans and lines of credit.

Those attorneys general were Lynch, Vermont's William Sorrell, California's Jerry Brown, Maryland's Doug Gansler, Massachusetts' Martha Coakley, Connecticut's Richard Blumenthal and Oregon's Hardy Myers

"(I)f the U.S. auto industry is serious about taking millions in aid from our pockets, it must show us that it too is serious about global warming and taking a leading (and therefore profitable) role as a producer of fuel-efficient and carbon-sensitive vehicles," the letter says.

The State of California has set its own emissions standards that are stricter than the federal Environmental Protection Agency's and have been adopted by other states. The automotive industry say states can not preempt federal law.

"The automobile industry has wasted enormous resources in challenging automobile standards that are designed to make cars more environmentally sound and energy efficient," Lynch said.

Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the bailout bill, though its prospects of passing through the Senate appear less likely.

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