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Attorneys representing 21 youth in the Juliana v. United States climate lawsuit have filed opposition briefs to Trump administration and fossil fuel industry defendants' motions that sought again to derail the case from trial. In their filings, the youths' attorneys argue that "any delay in resolving the merits of this case irreversibly prejudices the youth plaintiffs in securing and protecting their fundamental constitutional rights."

The attorneys filed three responses Monday. The first response was to the U.S. government's request that U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken allow the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals the opportunity to review her Nov. 10, 2016 order denying motions to dismiss before the trial even takes place.

From the youth's brief:

"Federal Defendants' argument that 'no relief could be obtained against the President,' ... is substantially similar to one flatly rejected by the Ninth Circuit as 'contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy' in Washington v. Trump, in which the current president argued that he had 'unreviewable authority' with respect to immigration policy 'even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections.'"

The second filing responded to fossil fuel defendants' similar motion for an early appeal, which complained that "complex scientific debate ... swirls around the issues raised by the plaintiffs' lawsuit." The third filing was in response to both the Trump administration and the fossil fuel defendant's attempts to put the trial on hold, in the event Judge Aiken grants their requests and the Ninth Circuit agrees to step in.

The fossil fuel defendants, members of trade associations American Petroleum Institute (formerly directed by now Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson), American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers and National Association of Manufacturers, are represented by Sidley Austin, a law firm "whose diverse client base includes companies that develop, produce, transport, process and market energy." In 2016 alone, Sidley received $1.928 billion in revenue.

Per federal rules of procedure, Judge Aiken, informed by Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin's recommendation, holds the power to decide whether the Ninth Circuit has an opportunity to grant the defendants' requests for an interlocutory appeal of her November decision.

"The Trump administration and the fossil fuel interests have acknowledged our lawsuit is a threat to their profit-seeking motives," Tia Hatton, 20, youth plaintiff from Eugene, Oregon, said.

"Their move to appeal Judge Aiken's historic decision to hear our case is nothing more than an extension of their personal interests and preposterous climate denial. These interests render their moronic dismissal of the merit of the constitutional rights that my co-plaintiffs and I, as well as future generations have to a stable climate system."

Jacob Lebel, 20, youth plaintiff from Roseburg, Oregon, agreed. "It's laughable and darkly ironic to hear our government argue that it will be irreparably harmed by our request that it produce and preserve documents that deal with climate change," he said.

"What about the irreparable harms that President Trump's administration is inflicting upon us youth with its reckless promotion of the fossil fuel industry and attacks on climate science?"

On Friday, attorneys representing the youth served legal requests for documents to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, U.S. Dept. of Defense and U.S. Dept. of State, just a few of the agency defendants in the case. The requests are a timely part of the discovery process, aimed at getting to trial by fall as Judge Coffin has requested.

Last month, attorneys representing the youth served requests for production of documents to the U.S. government and the American Petroleum Institute asking both defendants to turn over any of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's pseudonym emails in their custody (emails sent from "wayne.tracker@exxonmobil.com") by April 16.

"The Trump administration appears to labor under the mistaken belief that its decisions are beyond the jurisdiction of constitutional review," Julia Olson, plaintiffs' counsel and executive director of Our Children's Trust, said. "As we've already seen, when President Trump puts travel bans in place that violate constitutional rights, courts can and will block those actions. When he takes alarming actions that deny our youth plaintiffs their fundamental rights to a safe climate, courts can and will block those actions as well."

A telephonic case management conference, with Judge Coffin and attorneys representing all the parties, is set for April 7 at 10 a.m. PST.

Fracking

In a 2-1 decision Thursday, the Colorado Court of Appeals reversed the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission's order denying a youth-brought rulemaking petition against fracking and a lower court's order upholding the denial. The court remanded the case to the district court and the commission, finding that the commission erred in its interpretation of Colorado law:

"We therefore conclude that the commission erred in interpreting [the Oil and Gas Conservation Act] as requiring a balance between development and public health, safety and welfare."

"The clear language of the act ... mandates that the development of oil and gas in Colorado be regulated subject to the protection of public health, safety and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources."

The commission had argued that the Oil and Gas Conservation Act required it to strike a balance between the regulation of oil and gas operations and protecting public health, the environment and wildlife resources.

The six plaintiffs in the case are Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Itzcuahtli Roske-Martinez, Sonora Brinkley, Aerielle Deering, Trinity Carter and Emma Bray. All are members of the Boulder-based youth group Earth Guardians.

The youth hand-delivered their petition for rulemaking in November 2013 to the commission. Their petition asked the commission to develop and implement a rule to stop the permitting of fracking until and if, oil and gas development can be done without causing harm to humans and without impairing Colorado's natural resources, including atmospheric resources and climate change.

"By its decision today, the court has concluded that the commission has full statutory authority to adopt Petitioner's proposed rule," Julia Olson, plaintiffs' counsel and executive director of Our Children's Trust, said. "The commission can no longer decide to prioritize oil and gas development over the health and safety of Coloradans. This is an enormous victory for these youth. We look forward to helping the youth of Colorado go back before the commission on remand."

Martinez, youth director of Earth Guardians, shared his excitement on the win. "Our movement to fight for the rights of people and our environment is evolving," he said.

"From the streets to the courtroom, the voices of the younger generation will be heard and the legal system is a tool for our resistance. Small wins build up to create massive change. I'm very optimistic about the potential this lawsuit has to protect my Colorado. Now more than ever, we will see people reclaiming the power."

Martinez is one of 21 youth plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States, a climate case brought in federal court and headed to trial this fall in U.S. District Court in Oregon. The American Petroleum Institute (API) is an intervenor defendant in both Martinez's Colorado and federal case. API represents the interests of the oil and gas industry supporting the commission in Colorado and the Trump administration in federal court. On Friday, attorneys representing Martinez and his co-plaintiffs in that case, served API and the federal government with requests for emails to or from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's pseudonym,Wayne Tracker.

Judges ruling on the side of youth plaintiffs were Judge Terry Fox and Judge JoAnn Vogt, with Judge Laurie Booras dissenting. In Booras' dissent, she wrote:

"I respectfully dissent from the majority's conclusion that the statutory scheme of the Oil and Gas Conservation Act (the Act), §§ 34-60-101 to -130, C.R.S. 2016, requires protection of public health, safety and welfare as a determinative factor, instead of requiring balancing between those considerations and oil and gas production."

In this Colorado case, however, the youth won their right to have their health, safety and welfare take precedence over oil and gas drilling. They will head back to district court with the support of Coloradans from across the state, hundreds of whom marched in support of their case prior to their hearing before the Colorado Court of Appeals last month.

Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas is one of many related legal actions brought by youth in several states and countries, all supported by Our Children's Trust, seeking science-based action by governments to stabilize the climate system.

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Photo credit: Our Children's Trust

Attorneys representing 21 youth plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States served request for production of documents to the U.S. government and the American Petroleum Institute (API), asking both defendants to turn over the "Wayne Tracker" emails, as part of discovery in the climate case.

As ExxonMobil explained Tuesday, the email address pseudonym "was put in place for secure and expedited communications between select senior company officials and the former chairman for a broad range of business-related topics." New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office stated in a March 13 court filing that Rex Tillerson used the "Wayne.Tracker@exxonmobil.com" pseudonym "to send and receive materials regarding important matters, including those concerning to the risk-management issues related to climate change …"

While risk-management issues related to climate change are important to the New York Attorney General's investigation, attorneys representing youth plaintiffs suspect the emails will also reveal the deep influence of the fossil fuel defendants over U.S. energy and climate policies and the defendants' private acknowledgement that climate change was caused by their product, both of which are important to the youth's case. To the latter point, the fossil fuel defendants have refused to take a position on whether climate change is caused by burning fossil fuels, even when pressed by federal judges to answer that question.

As reported by Bloomberg, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office stated that Sec. of State Rex Tillerson used a pseudonym, "Wayne.Tracker@exxonmobil.com," for emails while he served as ExxonMobil's CEO. Because ExxonMobil is a member of API and Tillerson served on the Board of Directors of API through December, he was a player in Juliana v. United States even before he was confirmed as Secretary of State, which caused him to become a named government defendant.

Plaintiffs are asking the U.S. government and API defendants to turn over any of Tillerson's pseudonym emails in their custody by April 16.

During a Feb. 7 case management conference, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin relayed his understanding about the discovery youth plaintiffs are seeking to Frank Volpe, Sidley Austin attorney representing API:

"... there's a subset of their substantive due process case that involves what did you know and when did you know it and did someone cover it up, did they create this danger …"

"When looking for evidence of a cover up, emails from Rex Tillerson's pseudonym about climate change are just the kind of evidence the court needs to see," Julia Olson, plaintiffs' counsel and executive director of Our Children's Trust, said.

The 21 youth plaintiffs, ages 9 to 21, received national publicity last week about their case in The Washington Post and National Geographic.

Juliana v. United States is one of many related legal actions brought by youth in several states and countries, all supported by Our Children's Trust, seeking science-based action by governments to stabilize the climate system.

Lawyers representing fossil fuel defendants in a youth climate lawsuit filed a motion Friday with a U.S. District Court seeking an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on a Nov. 10, 2016 order in Juliana v. United States. As reported by The Washington Post, the Trump Administration filed a similar motion requesting appeal on Tuesday. Fossil fuel defendants support the Trump Administration's motion.

Fossil fuel defendants claim Judge Ann Aiken erred when ruling that "the political question doctrine is not a barrier to plaintiffs' claims." The fossil fuel defendants argue the executive and legislative branches of government, and not the judiciary, should resolve the issues presented by plaintiffs in this case.

Attorneys with Sidley Austin represent the fossil fuel defendants, who are members of trade associations API (formerly directed by now Secretary of State Rex Tillerson), AFPM and NAM. From their motion filed on Friday:

"If the case proceeds to expert discovery, that phase will certainly be complicated and protracted, given the complex scientific debate that swirls around the issues raised by the plaintiffs' lawsuit. The resources required to engage in fact and expert discovery will be enormous, and those resources will be preserved if the intervenor-defendants prevail on interlocutory appeal."

Judge Aiken, informed by Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin's recommendation, holds the power to decide whether or not to certify the questions for appeal sought with defendants' motions.

But Judge Aiken has already made her position clear on the political question issue. From her Nov. 10 order that the government and fossil fuel defendants are seeking to appeal, Judge Aiken wrote:

"However, the scope of the political question doctrine should not be overstated. As Alexis de Tocqueville observed, [t]here is hardly any political question in the United States that sooner or later does not turn into a judicial question." Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America 440 (Liberty Fund 2012)."

In fact, more than 11 pages of Judge Aiken's order thoughtfully and judicially analyzed and concluded on the political question issue. Her order walked through all six "Baker factors" from the Supreme Court's 1962 opinion in Baker v. Carr, a case recently featured in a 2016 podcast produced as part of the RadioLab Series "More Perfect." Following her analysis, Judge Aiken included a section entitled "Summary: This Case Does Not Raise a Nonjusticiable Political Question." From that section, the order reads:

"There is no need to step outside the core role of the judiciary to decide this case. At its heart, this lawsuit asks this Court to determine whether defendants have violated plaintiffs' constitutional rights. That question is squarely within the purview of the judiciary.

"This case shares some key features with Baker itself. In Baker, a group of voters challenged a statute governing the apportionment of state legislative districts. 369 U.S. at 188-95. Sixty years of population growth without legislative reapportionment had led to legislative districts had led to some votes carrying much more weight than others. Id. at 192-93. Here, the majority of youth plaintiffs are minors who cannot vote and must depend on others to protect their political interests. Thus, as amicus the League of Women Voters persuasively argues, the youth plaintiffs' claims are similar to the Baker claims because they are 'rooted in a 'debasement of their votes' and an accompanying diminishment of their voice in representational government." Br. for the League of Women Voters in the United States et al. as Amici Curiae at 19-20 (doc 79-1).

"In Baker, the Court acknowledged that the plaintiffs' claims had political dimensions and ramifications - but nonetheless concluded none of the Baker factors was inextricable from the case. 369 U.S. at 209. Similarly as discussed in detail above, this case raises political questions yet is not barred by the political question doctrine."

"The political question argument is a last ditch effort to avoid judicial review," Julia Olson, plaintiffs' counsel and executive director of Our Children's Trust, said. "When our political branches deny our plaintiffs their fundamental rights, it is absolutely the court's job to step in. This is well-settled and this defense is dead."

Juliana v. United States was filed in 2015 by 21 young plaintiffs who argue that their constitutional and public trust rights are being violated by the government's creation of climate danger. Judge Ann Aiken's November order denied motions to dismiss brought by both the Obama administration and fossil fuel industry defendants.

Juliana v. United States is one of many related legal actions brought by youth in several states and countries, all supported by Our Children's Trust, seeking science-based action by governments to stabilize the climate system.

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Julia Olson, executive director and chief legal counsel at Our Children's Trust, stands with some of the youth plaintiffs from the landmark lawsuit Juliana v. United States. Photo credit: Robin Loznak

The Trump administration filed a motion Tuesday seeking an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on a federal judge's Nov. 10, 2016 order in Juliana v. United States. The Trump administration also filed a motion to delay trial preparation until after its appeal is considered.

Further, the Trump administration asked for expedited review of both motions, arguing the plaintiffs' Jan. 24 letter requesting the government to retain records relating to climate change and communications between the government and the fossil fuel industry was overly burdensome. The excerpt from the government's stay motion said:

"Plaintiffs … intend to seek discovery relating to virtually all of the federal government's activities relating to control of CO2 emissions ... Compounding the United States' burdens, Plaintiffs have indicated that their intended discovery has a temporal scope of more than sixty years ... Absent relief, there will most certainly be depositions of federal government fact witnesses ... that will explore the extraordinarily broad topic of climate change and the federal government's putative knowledge over the past seven decades."

Yet, in another complex case regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and BP, the U.S. produced more than 17 million pages of documents from April to September of 2011. Plaintiffs maintain that their requests are limited, reasonable and aimed at getting to trial this fall.

Appeals typically do not occur until a trial court has issued final rulings following the presentation of evidence, but the Trump administration is asking federal Magistrate Judge Coffin to exercise his discretion to allow the case to proceed to the Court of Appeals before final judgment.

Attorneys representing fossil fuel industry defendants are expected to file papers supporting the government's motions on Friday.

"The Trump administration argues that this is a big case and so the burdens of preserving government documents warrant an expedited review," Julia Olson, plaintiffs' counsel and executive director of Our Children's Trust, said. "They're right. It is a big case. We have a classic example of the government's misplaced priorities: They prefer to minimize their procedural obligations of not destroying government documents over the urgency of not destroying our climate system for our youth plaintiffs and all future generations?"

In the government's answer to the youth plaintiffs' complaint, they admitted that "the use of fossil fuels is a major source of [carbon dioxide] emissions, placing our nation on an increasingly costly, insecure and environmentally dangerous path."

The case was brought by 21 young plaintiffs who argue that their constitutional and public trust rights are being violated by the government's creation of climate danger. Judge Ann Aiken's November order denied motions to dismiss brought by both the Obama administration and fossil fuel industry defendants.

"This request for appeal is an attempt to cover up the federal government's long-running collusion with the fossil fuel industry," Alex Loznak, 20-year-old plaintiff and Columbia University student, said. "My generation cannot wait for the truth to be revealed. These documents must be uncovered with all deliberate speed, so that our trial can force federal action on climate change."

Other pre-trial developments

  • During Wednesday's telephonic case management conference between attorneys for the parties and Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) took the view that the Trump administration, will have the opportunity to use executive privilege to prevent the release of evidence in the possession of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
  • DOJ attorneys said they recently informed the White House that NARA was in the process of gathering documents requested by the plaintiffs. It is the DOJ's view that former Presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, will have the opportunity to bar release of the records of their respective administrations, but President Trump will ultimately have the authority to bar release of any and all NARA records.
  • The next Juliana v. United States case management conference with Judge Coffin is scheduled for April 7 and will be telephonic.
  • Attorneys for youth plaintiffs are in the process of compiling a list of prospective witnesses to be deposed, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and expect to provide that list to defendants next week.

Juliana v. United States is one of many related legal actions brought by youth in several states and countries, all supported by Our Children's Trust, seeking science-based action by governments to stabilize the climate system.

Youth plaintiffs stand outside the federal courthouse in Eugene, Oregon, after a case management conference on Feb. 7 in the landmark federal lawsuit brought by 21 young plaintiffs against the federal government. Photo credit: Robin Loznak/ZUMAPRESS.com

Youth plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States filed a notice Thursday with a federal court in Oregon, naming Donald J. Trump as a defendant in their landmark climate case on pace for trial this fall. Plaintiffs have substituted President Trump as a named party in place of former President Barack Obama under the Federal Rules.

In Juliana v. United States, 21 young plaintiffs sued the federal government for violating their constitutional rights and their rights to vital public trust resources. The complaint alleges the government locked in a fossil-fuel based national energy system for more than five decades with full knowledge of the extreme dangers it posed. The plaintiffs have been further emboldened by President Trump's blatant climate denial, inspiring them in their fight to secure climate justice and a safe future.

"I look forward to taking on the Trump administration, as I think our new president, of all people, needs to have his power checked," said Kiran Ooommen, 20-year-old plaintiff from Eugene, Oregon. "President Trump benefits financially from the fossil fuel industry, but his benefit comes at a heavy cost for the rest of us. The policies of the U.S. government that ignore the threat of climate change are only going to get worse under the new presidency, based on Trump's apparent lack of understanding of climate science and his plans to invest further in the fossil fuel industry."

"We are ready to bring this case to trial with President Trump as a defendant," said Julia Olson, counsel for plaintiffs and executive director and chief legal counsel at Our Children's Trust. President Trump will not be able to perpetuate climate denialism in a court of law. That's just not going to happen."

At the Feb. 7 case management conference, Federal Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin made clear that the court will work closely with the parties throughout the pre-trial discovery process. He instructed all parties to prioritize expert discovery on the scientific components of the case and scheduled another status conference for March 8.

Judge Coffin encouraged all parties to streamline next steps to move the case to trial. At one point, Judge Coffin asked counsel for the fossil fuel industry if CO2 levels in the atmosphere are at 400 parts per million, as the federal government admitted. The fossil fuel attorneys responded that they did not know. Judge Coffin instructed counsel for the fossil fuel industry to determine whether they will contest facts that have been admitted by the federal government, including whether climate change is caused by burning fossil fuels.

At the end of the conference, counsel for the federal government surprised those in the courtroom when he stated the government is considering an early appeal of last fall's rulings denying motions to dismiss. Plaintiffs look forward to working diligently to complete discovery and have this case ready for trial in 2017.

On Jan. 24, lawyers for the youth plaintiffs notified the U.S. government that it must retain all documents, records and tangible things relating to the plaintiffs' claims in their complaint. On Monday, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Catherine McCabe confirmed that documents and records would not be destroyed. McCabe said: "We have taken no actions to delete data and we are taking steps to preserve and make available the scientific data and information that we have collected over the years …"

Watch here:

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On Jan. 13, the federal government filed its answer to youth plaintiffs' complaint in Juliana v. United States. In their answer, the federal defendants make several admissions to their long-standing knowledge of climate change danger and to today's knowledge on the severity of those impacts.

"The Department of Justice and the federal defendants have now admitted many of the central facts underpinning our youth plaintiffs' constitutional claims against the United States," said Julia Olson, counsel for plaintiffs and executive director of Our Children's Trust.

"This answer moves us even closer to proving our case at trial this year. One important and lasting legacy of the Obama Administration is its commitment to scientific research and disclosing the full dangers of climate change to the American people and the world. This answer, made in his final days in office, reflects the stark contrast between the truth of the climate dangers we face and the destructive lies being perpetuated by the incoming Trump Administration. At trial, truth will prevail."

Pursuant to defendants' answer, the following allegations were admitted:

  • That the use of fossil fuels is a major source of CO2 emissions, "placing our nation on an increasingly costly, insecure and environmentally dangerous path."
  • "That for over fifty years some officials and persons employed by the federal government have been aware of a growing body of scientific research concerning the effects of fossil fuel emissions on atmospheric concentrations of CO2—including that increased concentrations of atmospheric CO2 could cause measurable long-lasting changes to the global climate, resulting in an array of severe deleterious effects to human beings, which will worsen over time."
  • "That from 1850 to 2012, CO2 emissions from sources within the United States (including from land use) comprised more than 25 percent of cumulative global CO2 emissions."
  • "Federal Defendants admit that they permit, authorize and subsidize fossil fuel extraction, development, consumption and exportation. Federal Defendants admit that fossil fuel extraction, development and consumption produce CO2 emissions and that past emissions of CO2 from such activities have increased the atmospheric concentration of CO2."
  • That current CO2, methane and nitrous oxide levels are at "unprecedentedly high levels compared to the past 800,000 years of historical data and pose risks to human health and welfare."
  • Current and projected concentrations of six well-mixed greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, including CO2, threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations."
  • "Federal Defendants admit that scientific evidence shows that elevated CO2 concentrations have caused ocean acidification and ocean warming" and "caused adverse effects to coral reefs and wildlife."
  • "Stabilizing atmospheric CO2 concentrations will require deep reductions in CO2 emissions."
  • "The United States has supported fossil fuel development through overseas public financing, primarily through the Export-Import Bank of the United States…" and that the Export-Import Bank "provided $14.8 billion in commitments for 78 transactions or projects in the petroleum sector, including ... six in Russia/FSU ... the Export-Import Bank of the United States also supported numerous coal and gas power plants."

In some cases, the federal defendants even argued that the youth plaintiffs' allegations were understating the evidence against them. For example, plaintiffs alleged the atmospheric CO2 concentration exceeded 400 ppm in 2013 for the first time in recorded history, but the federal defendants admitted it was "for the first time in millions of years."

In another example, plaintiffs alleged that since 1993, sea levels have been rising at an average rate of 3.2 millimeters per year. The federal defendants rebutted that sea levels have actually been rising at a rate of 3.4 millimeters per year. In yet another example, youth alleged that fossil fuel production in the U.S. was 65.244 Quadrillion Btus in 2014, but federal defendants insist that year's production was 69.653 Quadrillion Btus.

Read through all admissions made by the federal defendants in their answer here.

The court will hold another case management conference on Feb. 7, to finalize proposed schedules for discovery and put the case on a schedule for trial in mid-late 2017. Among the facts to be determined at trial are whether the federal government actions, which it now concedes in its answer, are responsible for creating or enhancing climate change and have violated and continue to violate, the constitutional rights of the youth plaintiffs and future generations.

This federal case is one of many related legal actions brought by youth in several states and countries, all supported by Our Children's Trust, seeking the adoption of science-based prescriptions to stabilize the climate system.

Attorneys representing 21 young people in their federal climate lawsuit, sought today to obtain testimony from Rex Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil and President-elect Trump's candidate for Secretary of State.

The notice seeks Tillerson's testimony by way of deposition on Jan. 19, 2017, in Dallas, Texas. The notice was served on Sidley Austin, the law firm representing three defendants in the constitutional climate lawsuit: American Petroleum Institute (API), National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM). In his deposition, Tillerson will be asked questions about his knowledge relevant to the youths' claims that their constitutional rights have been violated.

As CEO of ExxonMobil, Tillerson has unique personal knowledge of the fossil fuel industry's historical relationship with the federal government. Tillerson and Exxon also have been important leaders in API, NAM and AFPM—the trade associations that joined the federal climate lawsuit as defendants. Tillerson serves on the board of API and he and other Exxon executives also serve on the board of NAM. The youth plaintiffs seek to prove these trade associations have known about the dangers of climate change since the 1960s and have successfully worked to prevent the government from taking the necessary steps to fully address climate change.

"I was shocked when students at Columbia Journalism School uncovered ExxonMobil's deep knowledge of climate change as early as the 1970s," Alex Loznak, 19-year-old plaintiff and student at Columbia University, said. "What's even more disturbing is that the Federal Government firmly knew about climate change in the 1950s. I look forward to working on our research team in the months ahead to establish the depth and breadth of the government and industry's knowledge of climate danger before trial."

The young plaintiffs sued the federal government for violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, and their rights to vital public trust resources, by locking in a fossil-fuel based national energy system for more than five decades with full knowledge of the extreme dangers it posed.

"We believe the evidence shows both ExxonMobil and the fossil fuel industry knew about the threat to our country posed by climate change and worked to encourage the federal government to enable emissions of more greenhouse gas," declared Philip Gregory, counsel for the plaintiffs and a partner with Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy. "Mr. Tillerson's testimony is crucial to understanding what the fossil fuel industry did to prevent the government from fully addressing this problem. The youth of America need to know the truth on how companies such as ExxonMobil continue to use the government to cause horrific harm to our nation's most vulnerable people."

Through a federal court order issued on Nov. 10, the young plaintiffs have already secured the following critical legal rulings in this case:

1. There is a fundamental constitutional right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life.

2. The federal government has fiduciary public trust responsibilities to preserve natural resources upon which life depends.

3. The youths' requested remedy (ordering the development and implementation of a national climate recovery plan based on a scientific prescription) is an appropriate remedy if the court finds a violation of the youths' constitutional rights.

"Rex Tillerson is one of the most knowledgeable executives in the fossil fuel world on the role of his industry alongside our federal government in causing climate change and endangering my youth plaintiffs and all future generations," said Julia Olson, attorney for the youth plaintiffs and executive director of Our Children's Trust. "We intend to use his deposition to uncover his and others' culpability, on behalf of these defendants."

A federal judge indicated that the case will be set for trial in the summer or fall of 2017. Among the facts to be determined at trial are whether the federal government's systemic actions over the past decades enabling climate change have violated the young plaintiffs' constitutional rights.

This federal case is one of many related legal actions brought by youth in several states and countries, all supported by Our Children's Trust, seeking the adoption of science-based prescriptions to stabilize the climate system.

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