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California and the West

Lawsuit on Auto Emissions Advances

September 27, 2006|From Bloomberg News

General Motors Corp., Toyota Motor Corp., Ford Motor Co. and other automakers have won a court bid to challenge California rules limiting tailpipe emissions linked to global warming.

A federal judge in Fresno, in a ruling filed Monday, turned down California's request to dismiss the case, saying the issues raised by the auto companies in the 2004 lawsuit should be decided in a trial.

U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii did not rule on the merits of the case. A trial is scheduled for Jan. 16.

The auto industry sued California in 2004 to block a law that mandates a nearly 30% reduction in heat-trapping gases emitted by passenger cars and trucks.

"We are disappointed that this lawsuit must move forward and that we are forced to devote resources to defend California's right to fight against global warming," said Teresa Schilling, a spokeswoman for Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer.

Thirteen Fresno-area car dealers and the Washington-based Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers say in their suit that the federal government has sole authority to set emissions standards and that California's rules would require them to spend billions of dollars to redesign vehicles specifically for sale in the state.

The alliance represents GM, Toyota and Ford, as well as DaimlerChrysler, BMW, Mazda Motor Corp., Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Porsche and Volkswagen.

The rules would take effect in model year 2009, for which passenger cars and trucks are now being designed.

Ishii said that the automakers' claims that California's rules are preempted by federal requirements should go to trial.

He dismissed the companies' claims that the rules interfere with interstate commerce and violate antitrust laws.

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