Carmakers and a group of California dealers have filed a lawsuit to challenge newly adopted California rules limiting greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles, Automotive News reported.

The lawsuit sets up a high-stakes courtroom confrontation the newspaper said.
 
The auto industry in the US contends that the regulation is an illegal attempt by a state to regulate fuel economy, which they say is the sole province of the federal government, Automotive News reported.

"Federal law is designed to ensure a consistent fuel economy programme across the country," said Fred Webber, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, quoted by Automotive News.

The alliance, representing the Big 3 and six import-brand automakers, filed the lawsuit with a group of Central Valley dealers. They chose the federal district court in Fresno, the newspaper said.

The California Air Resources Board, which adopted the regulation in September, and its allies maintain that the board rules are addressing a legitimate air pollution issue by trying to limit greenhouse gases, Automotive News added.

The CARB-adopted rules require a 30 percent cut in greenhouse gases from cars and trucks by 2016.

Other states are said to be considering following California's lead, but the debate on the costs to the auto industry of meeting such standards looks set to run.