Global Warming, Tailpipes And Where to Tackle Them


Wall Street Journal – September 18, 2007

Many people have been following the case in California where the state was suing a group of automobile manufacturers for damages that were tied to global warming. The contention of the state was that auto manufacturers were creating a product that was causing global warming and since global warming had caused damage to certain regions of the state, the auto guys should have to pay up.

This case has been dismissed by Judge Martin Jenkins.

In my opinion, this is a good thing. Not so much for reasons of global warming but for precedence in the court system.  This is a policy related issue and not a judicial issue. The courts should not get into declaring what industry has partially caused what part of global warming. This slippery slope could have resulted in thousands of tort lawsuits and eventually the consumer would bear this cost.

The estimates in the cost of reversing global warming usually range in the hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions of dollars. My gut is that we could double that if we allow tort lawsuits!

The suit against General Motors, Toyota Motor North America, Ford Motor, Honda Motor, the now-separated Daimler Chrysler, and Nissan North America was filed a year ago, and it sought recompense for the melted Sierra snowpacks, prolonged droughts and dying forests the state blamed in part on greenhouse gases emitted by auto tailpipes….

Judge Jenkins essentially agreed that California’s complaint was "non-justiciable."

Judge Jenkins suggested his court was simply the wrong venue for the state…"While the Supreme Court did not expressly address the issue of justiciability, it certainly did not sanction the justiciability of the interstate global warming damages tort claim now before this court," he wrote. "Rather, the Supreme Court’s analysis on the issue of standing counsels with convincing force to the contrary. As noted above, a state has standing to pursue its ‘procedural right’ through administrative channels."

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