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Kids Get Their Day in Court: 21 Youth Sue U.S. Government in Landmark Climate Lawsuit

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U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken scheduled Wednesday an oral argument for the youths' landmark climate lawsuit for Sept. 13 at 10 a.m. PST in Eugene, Oregon.

The youth plaintiffs after the hearing on March 9 in Eugene, Oregon. Photo credit: Our Children's Trust

The 21 young plaintiffs received a favorable decision in their case brought against the federal government and fossil fuel industry from U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin in April. Now, they are looking forward to their next opportunity to appear in court to fight for climate justice.

“I am excited that Judge Aiken is interested in hearing our oral argument this September," plaintiff Kiran Oommen, a 19-year-old from Eugene, said. “The U.S. government's continued support of the fossil fuel industry, despite the obvious high risks, is hurting people all the time and it's getting worse. With incidents like the oil train derailment and proceeding disaster in Mosier, Oregon this month, we can see the direct negative consequences of the government's blatant disregard for the health and safety of the people. The longer this case lasts, the greater the evidence will be condemning their actions."

The plaintiffs are suing the federal government for violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property and their right to essential public trust resources, by permitting, encouraging and otherwise enabling continued exploitation, production and combustion of fossil fuels. The case is one of multiple 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. Recently, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the King County Superior Court in Seattle, Washington, also ruled in favor of youth in related actions.

“We look forward to the opportunity to argue this case before Judge Aiken," Julia Olson, counsel for the plaintiffs and executive director of Our Children's Trust, said. “The more these brave young climate advocates appear in court, with the tremendous public support we anticipate for this September 13 hearing, the better. This is another chance to tell the egregious story of this case: that for more than 50 years our government has exploited fossil fuels, hand in hand with industry, knowing it would destroy our climate system and the healthy futures for these young people. We are eager to show the court how these youth's fundamental constitutional rights are being infringed."

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