Brown drops greenhouse lawsuit against automakers

Chris Rizo Jun. 22, 2009, 1:37pm

Jerry Brown (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California Attorney General Jerry Brown has withdrawn a lawsuit his predecessor filed against carmakers for allegedly damaging the state's air quality.

The 2006 lawsuit, filed by former Attorney General Bill Lockyer, claimed that six large automakers have damaged the Golden State's natural resources by selling vehicles that emit climate-altering greenhouse gases.

Defendants in the case were General Motors Corp., Ford, Chrysler LLC, and the North American units of Toyota, Honda and Nissan.

Among other things, the lawsuit said the companies' cars harmed the state by emitting heat-trapping pollutants that have decreased air quality and led to the decline of the Sierra Nevada snowpack.

The lawsuit was tossed out of court by then-federal Judge Martin Jenkins of the Northern District of California in September 2007. The judge ruled that the case raised issues that ought to be addressed by Congress, not the courts.

Brown had asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to reinstate the lawsuit. He withdrew that request last week.

In a statement, Brown said the lawsuit was no longer necessary given policy decisions by the White House to move toward increased federal fuel-economy standards and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's recent acknowledgment that greenhouse gases pose a public health hazard.

"With the new Administration in Washington, the rules have radically changed. The EPA and the federal government are now on the side of reducing greenhouse gasses and are taking strong measures to reduce emissions from vehicles," Brown said in a statement.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

More News