On the eve of the first auction for carbon-emission permits in California, the state's Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit that slams the plan as a "money grab."

By auctioning carbon allowances to entities responsible for the majority of the state's pollution, the California Air Resources Board has created an unconstitutional tax, according to the complaint filed Tuesday in superior court.

"This action brought by an unelected state board to use regulatory statutes to raise tens of billions dollars from taxpayers is unprecedented in our state's history," the powerful business lobby claims. "Even the elected and democratically accountable Legislature and governors of California have never imposed such a massive tax/fee.