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'We'll See You in Court': Kids Climate Lawsuit Moves Forward After Judge Denies Trump

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Young plaintiffs cheer outside a federal courthouse in Eugene, Oregon. Robin Loznak

A federal court rejected the Trump administration's attempt to shut down a landmark lawsuit initiated by 21 young plaintiffs suing the government for its creation of climate danger.

The three-judge panel with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco denied the White House's writ of mandamus petition filed in June, a rarely used legal maneuver that would have dismissed Juliana v. United States.


In the unanimous decision Wednesday, Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas called the petition a "drastic and extraordinary remedy reserved for really extraordinary causes" and the Trump administration's motion did not satisfy that standard.

"The issues that the defendants raise on mandamus are better addressed through the ordinary course of litigation," Thomas wrote, thus allowing the case to move forward.

"The Ninth Circuit just gave us the green light for trial," said Julia Olson, the chief legal counsel for Our Children's Trust, the organization spearheading the lawsuit. "We will ask the district court for a trial date in 2018 where we will put the federal government's dangerous energy system and climate policies on trial for infringing the constitutional rights of young people."

Juliana v. United States was filed in 2015 on behalf of 21 young people who argue that their constitutional and public trust rights are being violated by the government's failure to take significant action on global climate change.

The Center for Biological Diversity, one of many environmental organizations that filed an amicus brief in support of the suit, celebrated the news.

"This is a huge victory for young people fighting to protect their future from climate chaos," Kassie Siegel, the director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute, said. "It should be the case that forces the government to reverse its stance on climate change and take the rapid, ambitious action we need."

The young plaintiffs are looking forward to seeing the case go to trial.

"I'm grateful that my fellow plaintiffs and I can have our voices heard, and that climate science can have its day in court," Victoria Barrett, an 18-year-old plaintiff from White Plains, New York, said. "The Trump administration tried to avoid trial, but they can't ignore us. Our future is our choice and I believe the courts will stand with our constitutional rights."

Kiran Oommen, a 21-year-old plaintiff from Seattle, Washington, added: "The question of the last few years has not been 'do we have a case' but rather 'how far will the federal government go to prevent justice.' We have seen that they are willing to go to many lengths to cover up their crimes and maintain the status quo, but not even the Trump administration can go far enough to escape the inevitable tide of social progress. The Ninth Circuit's decision affirms that we are on the side of justice, and for justice we are moving forward. We'll see you in court."

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Aerial view of Ruropolis, Para state, northen Brazil, on Sept. 6, 2019. Tthe world's biggest rainforest is under threat from wildfires and rampant deforestation. JOHANNES MYBURGH / AFP via Getty Images

By Kate Martyr

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest last month jumped to the highest level since records began in 2015, according to government data.

A total of 563 square kilometers (217.38 square miles) of the world's largest rainforest was destroyed in November, 103% more than in the same month last year, according to Brazil's space research agency.

From January to November this year an area almost the size of the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico was destroyed — an 83% overall increase in destruction when compared with the same period last year.

The figures were released on Friday by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and collected through the DETER database, which uses satellite images to monitor forest fires, forest destruction and other developments affecting the rainforest.

What's Behind the Rise?

Overall, deforestation in 2019 has jumped 30% compared to last year — 9,762 square kilometers (approximately 3769 square miles) have been destroyed, despite deforestation usually slowing during November and December.

Environmental groups, researchers and activists blamed the policies of Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro for the increase.

They say that Bolosonaro's calls for the Amazon to be developed and his weakening support for Ibama, the government's environmental agency, have led to loggers and ranchers feeling safer and braver in destroying the expansive rainforest.

His government hit back at these claims, pointing out that previous governments also cut budgets to environment agencies such as Ibama.

The report comes as Brazil came to loggerheads with the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) over climate goals during the UN climate conference in Madrid.

AOSIS blasted Brazil, among other nations, for "a lack of ambition that also undermines ours."

Last month, a group of Brazilian lawyers called for Bolsonaro to be investigated by the International Criminal Court over his environmental policies.

Reposted with permission from DW.

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