2007 WL 2726871 (ND Cal. 2007). This case is available at: http://www.climatelaw.org/cases/case-doc… v General Motors.pdf. The opening brief for the appeal is available at: http://ag.ca.gov/globalwarming/pdf/openi…. The Applicant’s motion to dismiss the appeal is available at: http://ag.ca.gov/globalwarming/pdf/motio…
This case was brought by the State of California in late 2006 against several motor vehicle manufacturing companies. The Plaintiff claimed that production of motor vehicles amounted to a public nuisance in the form of the emission of substantial quantities of greenhouse gases (GHGs). The Attorney-General’s department of California argued that the GHGs were contributing to climate change, which damaged the state through: increased air pollution leading to health problems, damaged vegetation growth and poor visibility; decline in the snowpack and snow levels, damaging the alpine and alpine dependent ecosystems and tourism industry; and coastal erosion causing harm to coastal environments and houses.
General Motors, Ford, Daimler Chrysler, and Toyota, Honda and Nissan outlets filed an early motion to the Northern District Court of California to dismiss the case due to lack of ‘justiciability.’ They argued, and the Court agreed, that the issue of climate change in 2007 was a ‘political question’ and must be decided by the political branch of government consisting of the President and Congress. The case brought under State and Federal public nuisance laws was therefore dismissed on the basis of the political question doctrine without prejudice as the Court found that ‘injecting itself into the global warming thicket’… would be outside the judiciary’s realm of concern with legal issues.
The case was appealed to the Ninth Circuit later that year when a new Attorney-General came into office. However, this appeal was abandoned on 19 June 2009 due to progress made in federal climate change policy after the election of President Obama. This included the EPA’s acknowledgement that carbon dioxide and other GHGs are dangerous to public health and so must be regulated and President Obama’s direction to the Department of Transport to establish higher standards for national fuel efficiency. Additionally defendants-appellees Chrysler and General Motors are now protected from creditors under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code.