September 21, 2006

Bench Warming

Hatched by Dafydd

It's hard to think of a sillier lawsuit than this one, filed by California's Democratic Attorney General (and candidate for treasurer in November) Bill Lockyer, with the undoubted connivance of Republican Governor and globaloney-lover Arnold Schwarzenegger:

California sued six of the world's largest automakers over global warming on Wednesday, charging that greenhouse gases from their vehicles have caused billions of dollars in damages.

The lawsuit is the first of its kind to seek to hold manufacturers liable for the damages caused by their vehicles' emissions, state Attorney General Bill Lockyer said.

In fact, it's not even a real lawsuit. It's a front. Its purpose is to force car makers to obey equally silly emissions rules, promulgated by California, to try to cram the Kyoto Protocol down everyone's throats -- and not just in California:

California has also targeted the auto industry with first-in-the-nation rules adopted in 2004 requiring carmakers to force cuts in tailpipe emissions from cars and trucks.

Automakers, however, have so far blocked those rules with their own legal action -- prompting one analyst to say California's lawsuit represents a way for California to pressure car manufacturers to accept the rules.

"That's the objective," said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research, a nonprofit organization that provides public research and forecasts about the industry. "They want to get the automakers basically to bow down and pay homage to the (emissions) law."

Since auto manufacturers are not going to make a completely separate line of cars for California than the rest of the nation, if the state wins this lawsuit, it means diesel econoboxes for everyone!

The absurdities of the lawsuit are manifold:

  • The auto manufacturers are being sued for obeying the law and all EPA regulations; if this becomes the norm, then nobody is safe from the most insane among us, no matter what he does. The public-policy implications are staggering.
  • Scientists are in disarray over the unanswered questions of "global climate change" theory, including how much (if any) is caused by human activity and whether it's on the whole bad or good for people: will the lawsuit explore whether increased CO2 yields larger, tastier, faster growing, and more pest-resistant crops?
  • How will damages be calculated? In figuring how much "global warming" has cost the state, will Lockyer deduct how much extra tax revenue the state has gotten from cheaper cars than it would have gotten if cars had been forced all along to include cockamamie, expensive anti-carbon-dioxide systems?
  • Will the defense be allowed to call expert witnesses who dispute globaloney theory, or will the judge rule that only scientists who agree with the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) be allowed?
  • Which temperature figures will the judgment be based upon: the ones promulgated by the IPCC at the beginning of the case, or the revised (downward) estimates issued several years later, at the end of the case?
  • Finally, if the state wins, it will have succeeded in dramatically raising the cost of gasoline and cars in California, choking off the first glimmerings in the previously doleful California economy, as we recover from one economic catastrophe (Gray Davis), only to stumble into another: Bill Lockyer.

    It will be a disaster for the Democrats, as it will be rightly painted as a massive regressive tax on the working poor and middle class, launched by limousine liberals "in a hurry" to fix something -- quick, before we might find out that it doesn't need fixing after all.

    It pits the liberal elitists against the unions. It's anti-car, therefore unAmerican and especially unCalifornian. It's Rose Bird-ian legislating from the bench, substituting the bludgeon of the courts for the free choices of democracy.

The case is nonsense cubed. It's "junk science" in its worst form, attempting to legislate the 2006 understanding of climatology for all time, regardless of what may be discovered in 2008, 2020, or 2050.

And here is the kicker:

Lockyer -- a Democratic candidate for state treasurer in the November election -- said the lawsuit states that under federal and state common law the automakers have created a public nuisance by producing "millions of vehicles that collectively emit massive quantities of carbon dioxide."

What is the normal response to a public nuisance? To ban it, of course: so unless Bill Lockyer calls for the abolition of all cars, he makes himself into the Compleat Hypocrite (not to mention a complete ass). He is actually trying to sue Detroit out of business!

But in the end, the ludicrous lawsuit may have a very beneficial effect. Mull this:

Ford deferred comment to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which said the lawsuit was similar to one a New York court dismissed that is now on appeal.

"Automakers will need time to review this legal complaint, however, a similar nuisance suit that was brought by attorneys- general against utilities was dismissed by a federal court in New York," the industry group said in a statement....

But Sean Hecht, executive director of the Environmental Law Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the lawsuit has a "reasonable" chance of succeeding.

He also noted the judge in the New York lawsuit cited rarely-used legal doctrine in ruling that the question at issue was political rather than legal and should therefore be addressed by the legislature and not the court.

I think it very likely this "rarely-used legal doctrine" will prevail -- if not in Oakland, where it was filed, then when the 9th Circus Court hears it... and when the Supreme Court decides it. And this oddball legal theory -- that courts mustn't usurp the power rightly left to the legislature -- will suddenly become much more prominent.

Count on it. The reign of the robes draws to a close.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 21, 2006, at the time of 4:56 AM

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The following hissed in response by: The Yell

This is especially asinine in a state where each and every gas-burning car and truck must individually pass a state-mandated emissions examination.

The above hissed in response by: The Yell [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2006 6:34 AM

The following hissed in response by: Texas Jack

I know there are a few sane and intelligent people in California (Why do you stay?) but obviously not enough to counter the vast number of fruits and nuts. You few should move back to the real world, and we could give California back to Mexico. The IQ average of the country would surely go up by at least 6 points.

The above hissed in response by: Texas Jack [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2006 7:10 AM

The following hissed in response by: yetanotherjohn

On another site, a commenter proposed that the carmakers stop shipping new cars to the state until the lawsuit is settled (you know, so they don't continue to run up damages). They won't do it because of the cost to them, but imagine the public response if they did.

The above hissed in response by: yetanotherjohn [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2006 7:24 AM

The following hissed in response by: David Kralik

This is unbelieveable! Here is the National Association of Manufacturers Take on this issue:

Pretty powerful stuff

The above hissed in response by: David Kralik [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2006 8:04 AM

The following hissed in response by: Nuclear Siafu

I would actually love to see the state of California enforce a ban on most cars. Just think of the wacky hijinks we'd be treated to in the news:

"Man caught smuggling SUV in his pants across state line."

"Patient group pleads for exemption from car ban for 'Medicinal Purposes.'"

The good times would never end!

The above hissed in response by: Nuclear Siafu [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2006 11:03 AM

The following hissed in response by: nk

I, Claudius: "Let the poison come out."

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2006 12:20 PM

The following hissed in response by: Da Bear

Lockyer is California's A.G. and a rabid anti gunner. This lawsuit, if held up as non-frivolous by a shopped judge, is an attempt to to circumvent Congress's shield law against gun manufactures like Colt and S & W. The key phase is " manufacturers liable for damages allegedly caused by" .. and Lockyer would add "effects of legal weapons on civilian populations"

This car lawsuit , a classic Trojan horse( no Cali politico will really mess the Cali car industry, just take a few media shots) running interference for an anti-gun lawsuit, has been floating around the AG office for a couple of years.
Lockyer wants to be Governor in 4 years ( duh!) and thinks a successful gun manufactures ban is the ticket in.

Da Bear

The above hissed in response by: Da Bear [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 22, 2006 7:45 AM

The following hissed in response by: DCM

Wouldn't it make more sense to sue the State of California and the individuals who run it for the probably trillions of $$$ of damages they have caused? (Ignore governmental immunity - the law doesn't really matter in CA).

It would be interesting to see the auto makers just tell CA that they won't sell cars there anymore.

The above hissed in response by: DCM [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 22, 2006 10:16 AM

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