Quantcast
Climate

Fossil Fuel Industry Set to Argue for Dismissal of Landmark Climate Change Lawsuit Brought by 21 Youth

By Curtis Morrison

U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Coffin is scheduled to hear oral arguments Wednesday from the U.S. government and the fossil fuel industry on their motions to dismiss a landmark constitutional climate change lawsuit.

Three of the 21 youth plaintiffs, (L-R) Nathan, Xiuhtezcatl and Victoria arriving in Eugene, Oregon, Tuesday from Alaska, Colorado and New York. Photo credit: Our Children's Trust

The case has been brought before the court by 21 youth plaintiffs as well as climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, as guardian for future generations as well as his granddaughter and youth plaintiff Sophie. The youth's complaint itself is 95 pages, but boils down to a simple demand that the federal government cease conduct that promotes fossil fuel extraction and consumption, and instead develop and implement an actual science-based climate recovery plan. The complaint argues the youth have a fundamental constitutional right to be free from the government's destruction of their Earth's atmosphere.

The Department of Justice represents the U.S. government (using taxpayer dollars), while Sidley Austin LLP, a law firm with 1,900 lawyers, represents the fossil fuel industry. The latter's motion to intervene was granted by Judge Coffin in January.

In true David and Goliath form, the youth and Dr. Hansen will be represented by legal counsel coordinated and led by the small Oregon non-profit Our Children's Trust. The youth have received additional legal support through an amicus brief on behalf of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, representing 250 Catholic organizations and thousands of individuals, and the Leadership Council of Women Religious, representing more than 40,000 women religious. Additional amicus briefs supporting the youth have been filed by constitutional scholar John E. Davidson, former senior scientist and executive director of the defendant's Office of the U.S. Global Change Research Program Dr. Michael MacCracken, and Hansen himself, in his capacity as an climate expert.

But the legal support behind the youth is only the tip of the iceberg. They are also expecting moral support from hundreds of supporters, mostly students, traveling to Eugene, Oregon, for the hearing Wednesday. One group that has been instrumental in organizing the community support has been 350 Eugene, a group founded by environmentalist, author and journalist Bill McKibben.

“Students are both scared about the climate crisis and inspired by seeing other kids—especially plaintiffs they know from school or local clubs—take an action as bold as suing the government," Mary DeMocker, 350 Eugene's co-founder and creative director, said. "They are fascinated and want to march with them at our rallies and hear them speak in court, because they know plaintiffs amplify their own love—for animals, for the earth, for fairness—and their fear that their world is being destroyed by the adult recklessness."

The court's shorthand for the case, Juliana v. United States, refers to the now 19-year-old youth plaintiff listed first in the complaint, Kelsey Juliana. Here's a statement Juliana released on her Facebook wall:

“Our arguments are simple: We demand that the government we elected to represent its people act on the interests of the land and citizens instead of the interests of corporate industry. We, as youth, demand that our constitutional rights to life, liberty and property are upheld by the government and that they act to advert climate catastrophe by reducing carbon emissions and fazing out support of fossil fuels. We are youth fighting for our futures in court, securing fundamental rights for present and future generations. JOIN US! FOSTER THE MOVEMENT! 3/9/2016, 10am, Federal District Courthouse in Eugene, OR!"

In preparation for the expected attendance and interest in the case, the District Court plans to livestream the oral arguments into three overflow courtrooms in the same courthouse, as well as Courtroom 12A in Portland's Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse.

Curtis Morrison is a volunteer law clerk with Our Children's Trust, freelance journalist and Whittier Law School J.D. candidate with environmental law concentration.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Dear President Obama, The Clean Energy Revolution Is Now

Teen Girls See Big Drop in Chemical Exposure With Switch in Cosmetics

Democratic Debate Brings Anti-Fracking Movement to Center Stage

Heeding Leo's Call

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
A Bureau of Land Management contractor's helicopter forces a wild horse into a trap during the recent roundup at the Salt Wells Creek. Steve Paige

Brutal Outlook for Healthy Wild Horses and Burros: BLM Calls for Shooting 90,000

On Thursday, the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board recklessly voted to approve recommendations that call on the Bureau of Land Management to shoot tens of thousands of healthy wild horses and burros.

At its meeting in Grand Junction, Colorado, the advisory board recommended that BLM achieve its on-range population goal of 26,715 wild horses and burros while also phasing out the use of long-term holding facilities—both within three years.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
www.youtube.com

‘Geostorm’ Movie and Climate Hacking: Are the Dangers Real?

By Jane A. Flegal and Andrew Maynard

Hollywood's latest disaster flick, "Geostorm," is premised on the idea that humans have figured out how to control the earth's climate. A powerful satellite-based technology allows users to fine-tune the weather, overcoming the ravages of climate change. Everyone, everywhere can quite literally "have a nice day," until—spoiler alert!—things do not go as planned.

Admittedly, the movie is a fantasy set in a deeply unrealistic near-future. But coming on the heels of one of the most extreme hurricane seasons in recent history, it's tempting to imagine a world where we could regulate the weather.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Area 1002 of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain. Wikimedia Commons.

GOP-Controlled Senate Paves Way for Oil Drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The Senate Republicans' narrow passage of the 2018 budget plan on Thursday opened the door for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR).

But Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups criticized the GOP for sneaking the "backdoor drilling provision" through the budget process. Past proposals to drill in the refuge have consistently failed.

Keep reading... Show less
iStock

Corporate Fleets Making the Switch to Electric Vehicles

By Gina Coplon-Newfield and Sung-Jae Park

Recently, 10 major transnational corporations launched EV100, a new global initiative to slash emissions by increasing the number of corporate fleet electric vehicles (EV) on the road. EV100 companies, including Ikea, Unilever and HP, are committing to, by 2030, integrate EVs into their owned or leased fleets and install EV charging stations for customers and employees.

The full initial list of companies, many of which operate many thousands of fleet vehicles, includes: Baidu, Deutsche Post DHL Group, Heathrow Airport, HP Inc., IKEA Group, LeasePlan, METRO AG, PG&E, Unilever and Vattenfall. Vattenfall, the Swedish power company that serves most of Europe, intends to meet the campaign's commitments, and then some. "Replacing our whole 3,500 car fleet with EV in the coming five years, working with our customers to deploy charging infrastructure, and building northern Europe's biggest connected charging network, are three examples of actions we are taking to promote a sustainable and climate smarter living for customers and citizens," Magnus Hall, CEO of Vattenfall, said.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
www.youtube.com

Losses From California Wildfires Top $1 Billion, Expected to Rise 'Dramatically'

Insured losses from fires in Northern California have topped $1 billion and are expected to rise "dramatically," state insurance officials announced Thursday.

Keep reading... Show less
Damage from Hurricane Maria. La Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica

Puerto Rico's Revival Depends on Empowering Small-Scale Farmers

Reporting by Saulo Araujo

Houses without roofs and trees without leaves is all the eyes could see in the week following the devastation that Hurricane Maria wrought. The Category 5 storm with 150+ miles per hour winds was the strongest to hit the island in over a century, leaving the entire population without water and power. Weeks later 3 million people are still without electricity.

Up in the mountains, small-scale farmers lost their crops, and their ability to feed their families was abruptly leveled. La Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica (Boricuá) a grassroots organization of more than 100 families made up of small-scale farmers, farmworkers and organizers across Puerto Rico and the islands of Vieques & Culebra, continues working to communicate with their members in rural areas and to assess the damages. Boricua has made great progress in the last three decades to organize and support farmers, facilitate farmer-to-farmer trainings, and build solidarity nationally and globally. They are helping to fuel agroecology on the island, bringing locally grown, nutritious food to their communities and to market.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
The damaged oil platform in Lake Pontchartrain, LA after the Oct. 15 explosion. U.S. Coast Guard

Gulf Oil Spill Off Louisiana Coast Is 2x Bigger Than Original Estimate

LLOG Exploration Company, LLC drastically underestimated the amount of oil its fractured pipeline spilled into the Gulf of Mexico last week.

The oil and gas operator first estimated that it spewed about 340,000 gallons of oil. Now, according to a Coast Guard announcement, the company is now reporting a discharge of 672,000 gallons—about two times the initial estimate.

Keep reading... Show less
Before and after images of EPA's climate and energy website. Environmental Data and Governance Initiative

New EPA Climate Change Website Doesn't Mention 'Climate Change'

In the Trump administration's ongoing efforts to pretend that climate change doesn't exist, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made dramatic changes to a website catered to helping states, local and tribal governments learn about global warming and how prepare and respond to the impacts of our hot new world, according to a new analysis from the watchdog group Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI).

As you can see in the screenshot above, the website site was previously titled "Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local, and Tribal Governments." Now, it's called, "Energy Resources for State, Local, and Tribal Governments." Fifteen mentions of the term "climate change" were scrubbed from the original main page alone, and the old epa.gov/statelocalclimate URL even redirects to epa.gov/statelocalenergy.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

Get EcoWatch in your inbox