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Automakers Sued by California AG Over Emissions

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has sued the six largest U.S. and Japanese automakers for damages related to greenhouse gas emissions. The federal lawsuit (PDF), filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland, names Chrysler Motors Corp., General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor North America, Honda North America and Nissan North America, alleges that emissions from their vehicles have harmed Californians’ health, damaged the environment and cost the state millions of dollars to combat their effects.

Lockyer’s action comes 48 days before the November election, prompting questions about his motives, AP reports.  “This is the silly season of elections in the fall, and obviously he thinks this will gain him a few marginal votes,” said Sean McAlinden, an economist with the nonprofit Center for Automotive Research.

That court case relates to rules adopted in 2004 by the state Air Resources Board designed to cut exhaust from cars and light trucks by 25 percent and from sport utility vehicles by 18 percent.

The auto industry challenged the state’s ability to set such regulations shortly after the rules took effect. In that case, automakers argue that California is acting outside its jurisdiction because the only way they can meet the more stringent emission standards is to raise fuel efficiency. The state says automakers can meet the tougher standards with better technology.

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