Quantcast
Climate

13-Year-Old Sues North Carolina, Asks Judge to Force State to Take Action on Climate Change

Many young people, such as 13-year-old Hallie Turner, are worried that their generation will have to deal with the most intense consequences of unchecked climate change. That's why Turner, an eighth-grader in North Carolina, is one of a number of young people across the country who is suing her state over its failure to address climate change.

Turner's case is being brought forth by the help of Our Children's Trust, an Oregon-based climate change nonprofit that has helped youth around the country file lawsuits at the state level and is also helping 21 young people sue President Obama and the federal government for violating the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty and property by not addressing climate change. Attorneys from Duke University’s Environmental Law and Policy Clinic and Gayle Tuch, a Forsyth County lawyer, are also representing Turner.

“It’s important to me because I feel like this is an issue that impacts everyone,” Turner told The News Tribune. “And it’s an issue, it’s not only affecting me, but it’s affecting future generations.”

She's challenging a decision made last year by the state's Environmental Management Commission and pushing for the state to mandate that North Carolina reduce its carbon emissions by at least four percent each year. “Hallie’s not asking for more than what’s considered best available science,” said attorney Tuch.

The state's Commissioner Benne Hutson rejected Turner's petition, "not on its merits" but because it was "incomplete," according to the News Tribune. Hutson also cited the fact that "North Carolina law prohibited environmental agencies from enacting state laws that were stricter than federal law."

Turner, however, is undeterred. “I feel like my voice needs to be heard,” Turner told reporters inside the courthouse on Friday. “I haven’t really ever let my age get in the way of it. There are definitely people who are like, ‘You’re a kid. What do you know?’ and that was always the frustrating thing for me.”

The judge said he hoped to have a ruling by Thanksgiving. If the court rules against her, Turner said, “I’m going to keep fighting.”

This is not Turner's first fight calling for a healthier planet. After reading Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth when she was nine, Turner was inspired to take action. She serves on the leadership council of the iMatter Youth Movement, has attended rallies and marches in her state and Washington, DC, and even spoke at the Climate Convergence on Raleigh in 2013.

Watch Turner's story here:

Turner's lawsuit is timely given that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has "put state officials on notice" that North Carolina is at risk of losing its regulatory authority for industrial air and water pollution, says Winston-Salem Journal.

The Winton-Salem Journal reports:

"In a letter dated Oct. 30, Heather McTeer Toney, a regional EPA administrator, cautioned department Secretary Donald van der Vaart that the state’s stance in several recent court decisions—that citizen groups did not have standing to challenge air and water quality permitting decisions—was troubling.

The letter mentioned court challenges, brought by two environmental organizations and backed by the Southern Environmental Law Center, over permits issued for a proposed cement plant near Wilmington and a limestone quarry on Blounts Creek near Vanceboro.

The EPA regional administrator stated that court rulings prohibiting the groups from seeking judicial review of the permits “cast serious doubt” on whether North Carolina meets minimum federal requirements to protect its residents from environmental pollution."

If the federal government were to follow through, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) would be stripped of its duties to issue industrial air and water permits. “We believe the EPA misunderstands the legal argument made in this case,” said agency spokesperson Crystal Feldman.

“We have no intention of losing that authority,” Feldman added. “DEQ fully supports citizen access to judicial review and is working to alleviate EPA’s misunderstanding about the law.”

Kids Derail $900 Million Development Project in Cancún

Mark Ruffalo Is ‘Burning Up’ 

#Youth4Climate: Inspiring Young People Around the World to Take Climate Action

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Popular
The battlefield of Verdun is part of France's Zone Rouge, cordoned off since the end of WWI. Oeuvre personnelle / Wikimedia Commons

This World War I Battlefield Is a Haunting Reminder of the Environmental Costs of War

World War I ended 100 years ago on Sunday, but 42,000 acres in northeast France serve as a living memorial to the human and environmental costs of war.

The battle of Verdun was the longest continuous conflict in the Great War, and it so devastated the land it took place on that, after the war, the government cordoned it off-limits to human habitation. What was once farmland became the Zone Rouge, or Red Zone, as National Geographic reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Westend61 / Getty Images

EcoWatch Gratitude Photo Contest: Submit Now!

EcoWatch is pleased to announce its first photo contest! Show us what in nature you are most thankful for this Thanksgiving. Whether you have a love for oceans, animals, or parks, we want to see your best photos that capture what you love about this planet.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Waves from the Atlantic Ocean crash against a scenic beach on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This sandy peninsula is a popular summer vacation destination and is also known for its many Great White sharks. Velvetfish / iStock / Getty Images

Cape Cod’s Gray Seal and White Shark Problem Is Anything but Black-and-White

By Jason Bittel

On a sunny Saturday in mid-September, 26-year-old Arthur Medici was boogie-boarding in the waves off Wellfleet, Massachusetts, when a great white shark bit his leg. Despite the efforts of a friend who pulled him ashore and the paramedics who rushed him to the hospital, Medici died from his injuries. It's about as tragic a story as you can imagine: a young life cut short due to a freak run-in with a wild animal.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
Max Pixel

Koch Industries Lobbies Against Electric Vehicle Tax Credit

By Dana Drugmand

Koch Industries is calling for the elimination of tax credits for electric vehicles (EVs), all while claiming that it does not oppose plug-in cars and inviting the elimination of oil and gas subsidies that the petroleum conglomerate and its industry peers receive.

Outgoing Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller introduced a bill in September that would lift the sales cap on electric vehicles eligible for a federal tax credit, and replace the cap with a deadline that would dictate when the credit would start being phased out.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Pexels

10 Things You Always Wanted to Know About Neonics

By Daniel Raichel

As massive numbers of bees and other pollinators keep dying across the globe, study after study continues to connect these deaths to neonicotinoid pesticides (A.K.A. "neonics"). With the science piling up, and other countries starting to take critical pollinator-saving action, here's a quick primer on all things neonics:

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Judita Juknele / EyeEm / Getty Images

Lyme Disease Expected to Surge

By Marlene Cimons

German physician Alfred Buchwald had no clue that the chronic skin inflammation he described in 1883 was the first recorded case of a serious tick-carrying disease, one that would take hold in a small Connecticut town almost a century later and go on to afflict people across the U.S.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals
Black rhino. Gerry Zambonini / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

China Restores Rhino and Tiger Parts Ban After International Fury

Great news from China! Following intense international backlash, the Chinese government said Monday that it has postponed a regulation that would have allowed the use of tiger bone and rhino horn for medicine, research and other purposes.

In October, China alarmed animal rights activists around the world when it weakened a 25-year-old ban on the trading of the animal parts. Conservationists said it would be akin to signing a "death warrant" for endangered tiger and rhino populations.

Keep reading... Show less
Oceans
The federal government must consider endangered species like sea otters before issue fracking permits off California's southern coast. Danita Delimon / Gallo Images / Getty Images

Judge: Wildlife Must Be Considered Before Permitting Fracking Off SoCal Coast

In what environmentalists are calling a major victory, a California judge ruled Friday that the Trump administration cannot approve any new fracking off the state's southern coast until a full review is done assessing the controversial technique's impact on endangered species and coastal resources, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!