California Attorney General Bill Lockyer sued the six biggest U.S. and Japanese automakers Wednesday, claiming their cars' greenhouse gas emissions contribute to global warming that harms the state.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland, claims human-induced global warming has reduced California's snow pack and the fresh water it provides, raised sea levels along the California coast, increased smog over cities, and boosted the threat of wildfires. This collective public nuisance has cost the state millions for assessments and preparations, it says.

"Defendants, by their annual emissions in the United States of approximately 289 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, are substantial contributors — among the world's largest contributors — to global warming, and to the adverse impact on California," the suit says.

Named as defendants are General Motors Corp., Toyota Motor North America Inc., Ford Motor Co., Honda North America Inc., Chrysler Motors Corp. and Nissan North America Inc.

It is the first suit ever to seek monetary damages from the auto industry for past and future harm by greenhouse gas emissions.

"We are seeing the harmful impacts of global warming today, and if we continue with 'business as usual,' we can expect to see more and larger impacts in the future," Lockyer said in a news release.

Automakers responded to Lockyer's lawsuit by issuing a statement saying they already are building cleaner vehicles. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers did not respond to the substance of Lockyer's lawsuit, however, saying manufacturers would need time to review the complaint.

This is the latest front in Lockyer's war on global warming. He's defending against the auto industry's lawsuit to invalidate stringent global-warming regulations California adopted in 2005.

Meanwhile, Lockyer, nine other attorneys general, the District of Columbia and New York City sued this year to challenge the Bush administration's new fuel economy standards for sport utility vehicles and light trucks, claiming they're silent on the environment and global warming.

Also, Lockyer, 11 other state attorneys general, two cities and several environmental groups have challenged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's refusal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. That case is under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

See the lawsuit at ag.ca.gov/newsalerts/cms06/06-082_0a.pdf.

Contact Josh Richman at jrichman@angnewspapers.com.