California and cars seem to go hand in hand, don’t they? I mean you don’t really hear about monster traffic jams in Montana. Well, if those traffic lights in Missoula haven’t been changed from being timed to having a sensor embedded in the roadway, you’ll probably hear “Missoulans” (is that right?) complaining about “gridlock” because they were a few minutes late to work.
But I digress…
You may have seen the headline this morning about the lawsuit Jerry Brown (our State Attorney General) brought against automakers. At issue was damages automakers would have to pay for contributing to global warming. Well, Brown lost the case in federal court because Judge Martin Jenkins stated that Jerry (aka “The Plaintiff”) did not “provide the Court with [a] legal framework or applicable standards upon which to allocate fault or damages, if any, in this case.” In essence, the court couldn’t determine exactly how much carbon dioxide the automakers listed in the lawsuit contributed because, well, there are so many sources of carbon dioxide that it’s not possible for the court to determine damages from the sources who were dragged into court.
Many in the print media are looking at this as a setback for the State, but I’m not so sure. The court may have ruled in favor of the Defendants in the case, but the battle to curb carbon emissions continues with Jerry Brown being a very active agent in this process (From the Associated Press):
Brown has successfully sued San Bernadino County to add a carbon emissions reduction scheme in its revised general plan. Last week, he wrested a $10 million agreement from oil giant ConocoPhillips Co. to reduce or offset its carbon output. Brown also has sent threatening letters to about a dozen state agencies demanding they take climate change into account when making development plans.
It may seem like one step forward, two steps back, when it comes it environmental policy in the U.S. these days. But it has traditionally been the states who have been innovators when it comes to legislation (with the Feds following after that). So, one can hope that as cities and counties in California start to factor carbon dioxide emission (and other pollutants to our environment) into their general plans, those policies will filter upward toward the state and federal levels. It’ll be a slowish process, but if there is a combination of individual behavioral change and larger-scale legislative changes in cities, counties, and in the states…well, let’s just say the feds shouldn’t be too far behind.