You Win Some and You Lose Some

by Julie Walsh on September 20, 2007

On Wednesday, September 12, Judge Vermont US District Court Judge William Sessions upheld a Vermont law requiring automakers to cut climate-warming vehicle emissions 30 percent by 2016. Fortunately for autoworkers concerned about losing their jobs, the omniscient judge declared that job losses “would be small (pg 89, ruling).” I bet that was comforting.

 That’s the bad news. The good news is that a federal judge in San Francisco ruled on September 17 that auto companies cannot be held liable for future damages in California caused by global warming.  In a decision atypical of the activism that characterizes our courts today, Judge Martin Jenkins dismissed California’s claims against the automakers because, “policy decisions concerning the authority and standards for carbon dioxide emissions lie with the political branches of government, and not with the courts."

 Given the current composition of Congress, who knows what deferring to the political process on global warming will lead to. Judge Jenkins nonetheless deserves plaudits for having the courage to make such an unpopular ruling.

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