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Global Warming Litigation
Other Suits

Updated: April 2007



Other Suits  

Engine Mfrs. Ass’n v. S. Coast Air Quality Mgmt. Dist., 309 F.3d 550 (9th Cir. 2002), vacated by 541 U.S. 246 (2004), remanded to No. CV-00-09065 (C.D. Cal 2005).

The South Coast Air Quality Management District, a governmental organization responsible for controlling air pollution in the Los Angeles area, enacted a set of rules that required private and public ‘fleet operators’ – entities that operate a large number of vehicles such as school buses or trash trucks -- to purchase the lowest-polluting vehicles commercially available. The Engine Manufacturers Association argued that this rule was preempted by the Clean Air Act’s requirements that the Federal government alone could set standards "related to" automobile emissions. The District and Circuit courts found that purchase restrictions were not preempted by the CAA because they did not affect a manufacturer's ability to sell, and the CAA was concerned with burdens on manufacturers.  In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled that such restrictions were impermissible when applied to private fleets and remanded on the issue of whether restrictions may be permitted for public fleets. On remand, the District Court found that the fleet rules, when applied to local and state governments, are not preempted.  Manufacturers appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where the case is pending.

CRC's brief in the Ninth Circuit.


Okeson v. The City of Seattle, 159 Wash.2d 436 (2007

Seattle ’s public utility mitigates the effects of its greenhouse gas emissions by paying public and private entities to reduce those entities’ emissions. Seattle ratepayers brought a class action suit challenging the use of these carbon offsets. The majority of the Supreme Court of Washington invalidated the program holding that while “combating global warming” was a “meritorious” government purpose it was not “a proprietary utility purpose.” Justice Sanders concurred on the judgment but wrote separately to object to the positive language on global warming.


Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society v. County of San Bernardino, San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and DOES I-20)

The Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club, and the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society filed a lawsuit challenging the San Bernardino County comprehensive growth plan.  The Petitioners claim the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the growth plan violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) as it lacks a discussion of the impacts of the plan on climate change, global warming, and greenhouse gas emissions in the County.  The Center claims the EIR failed to adequately disclose and analyze the project’s impacts and to analyze mitigation measures and alternatives. The Center alleges that the County Board of Supervisors did not use substantial evidence in concluding that no feasible alternatives or mitigation measures exist to mitigate the project’s effects.  The Center further alleges that the County violated the CEQA required process by including significant new information in the final EIR without providing “any meaningful opportunity to review and comment on the Project.”  Instead of providing meaningful responses to comments submitted by the Center and other members of the public on these issues, the County responses were “conclusory, evasive, confusing, or otherwise non-responsive, contrary to the requirements of the CEQA.”

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