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Clean Air Council

Kids Sue Trump Over Climate Rollbacks and Reliance on 'Junk Science'

Two Philadelphia-area children are suing President Donald Trump and two of his climate skeptic cabinet members, Energy Sec. Rick Perry and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, to try to stop them from rolling back existing environmental protections including the Clean Power Plan.

The plaintiffs, ages 7 and 11, are backed by the Clean Air Council, Philadelphia's oldest environmental non-profit. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Monday.


The complaint alleges that the Trump administration's reliance on "junk science" to undo climate regulations are a threat to the young plaintiffs and other U.S. citizens. It states:

"In recent years, the United States has experienced a steady increase in extreme weather events that have destroyed American homes and businesses, displaced millions of United States citizens, and caused the tragic loss of lives. The United States Government's current acts to roll back regulations and practices previously directed at addressing and minimizing the United States contribution to climate change will increase the frequency and severity of these extreme weather events and the dangers to Plaintiffs' lives and a life-sustaining environment.

Through these acts, the Government is relying on junk science to wage a war on facts, data, and reliable principles and methods arising out of scientific, technical, and specialized knowledge. In doing so, Defendants have acted with reckless and deliberate indifference to the established clear and present dangers of climate change, knowingly increasing its resulting damages, death, and destruction."

The children are only identified by their first and last initials in the court papers. Seven-year-old plaintiff "S.B." claims to be suffering from medical issues, including severe seasonal allergies that cause recurrent nosebleeds and vomiting, that are "directly impacted by the climate" and "as a result of Defendants' affirmative acts in causing increased climate."

Eleven-year-old plaintiff "B.B." claims to be suffering from asthma that is exacerbated by climate change. Before moving to Philadelphia, he lived in New York and experienced the impacts of Super Storm Sandy and Hurricane Irene. He similarly alleges he is experiencing harm from "the Defendants' affirmative acts in causing increased climate change."

"B.B. is passionate about protecting the environment, and experiences anxiety about the potentially irreversible impact of climate change on the planet and future generations, including his own children and grandchildren," the court papers state.

Incidentally, the lawsuit comes after the White House's released a sweeping report on Friday concluding that climate change is real and poses as a major threat to the U.S. and humans are "extremely likely" to be responsible. The 477-page National Climate Assessment conflicted with Trump's notorious stance on global warming as a "hoax" and defied his continued efforts to dismantle environmental regulations on both the national and international scale.

"We will not stand idly by while President Trump and his agencies raze crucial environmental protections, ignore climate science, dispute well-documented facts and force future generations of Americans to suffer the consequences of this administration's reckless choices and ignorant policies," Clean Air Council Executive Director and Chief Counsel Joseph Minott told The Hill.

"We must hold the federal government accountable for the long-term environmental harm that is propagating under its direction. It's time to fight back," he said.

As Reuters reported, by including the children, the Clean Air Council appears to be modeling its case after Juliana v. U.S., a pending federal lawsuit brought by 21 young plaintiffs and Earth Guardians who argue that their constitutional and public trust rights are being violated by the government's creation of climate danger.

"The Clean Air Council case is taking the legal theories pioneered in Juliana and applying them to a narrow set of facts related to specific rollbacks of the Trump administration," explained Meg Ward, a spokeswoman for Our Children's Trust, a group leading the Juliana suit.

The Trump administration has not issued a comment on the lawsuit.

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Earth Day Tips From the EcoWatch Team

At EcoWatch, every day is Earth Day. We don't just report news about the environment—we aim to make the world a better place through our own actions. From conserving water to cutting waste, here are some tips and tricks from our team on living mindfully and sustainably.

Lorraine Chow, reporter

Favorite Product: Dr. Bronner's Castile soap

It's Earth-friendly, lasts for months and can be used as soap, shampoo, all-purpose cleaner and even mouthwash (but I wouldn't recommend that).

Essential Tool: Blender

It has paid for itself in homemade smoothies, soups, sauces and dips. It also means I don't have to buy those individual foods in unnecessary plastic containers. Blending scraps helps your compost, too!

Earth Day Tip: Skip the straw

If you feel weird about saying "no straw" at restaurants, just tell the waiter that you're allergic to plastic.

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Favorite Product: Seventh Generation products

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Essential Tool: My portable thermos

I bring it with me when I order coffee or tea to go. That way I don't have to use paper cups, which are not actually recyclable, and some coffee shops even offer me a discount for bringing my own container!

Earth Day Tip: Get involved

In 2012, researcher Brad Werner ran a computer model and found our best shot at combating climate change was for people to form a mass social movement to demand it. So if you're worried about the environment, reach out to other people in your community and talk about what you can do together to make a difference!

Tara Bracco, managing editor

Favorite Product: Collapsible water bottle

Whether you're traveling or running errands, a reusable water bottle that's light and compact will help keep you hydrated and keep you from buying bottled water.

Essential Tool: Backpack

It's great for carrying your groceries home from the store, and you won't have to use plastic bags. If you have a long shopping list, try a rolling suitcase.

Earth Day Tip: Don't waste water

Turn off the water while you brush your teeth. It can save eight gallons of water a day!

Chris McDermott, news editor

Favorite Product: Clothes from Patagonia

Patagonia makes a wide range of inspired products and their environmental policies are world class. They use only organic cotton in their clothes, and they even offer trade-ins, recycling and repairs at any time.

Essential Tool: RIVER mobile power station and solar generator

This powerful piece of mind is always ready regardless of storms and travel, for as long as one can tap the sun.

Earth Day Tip: Savor something vegan

There's no nutritional substitute for fresh, unprocessed food, but food science has revolutionized the taste and texture of vegan alternatives. For the pure delight of it, celebrate with Miyoko's Kitchen vegan cheese, Tofurky Italian sausage (30 grams of protein per serving!) and SoDelicious non-dairy dark chocolate truffle frozen dessert made with cashew milk.

Irma Omerhodzic, associate editor

Favorite Product: Living Libations's Everybody Loves the Sunshine

Unlike sunscreen, this skin product works with the sun and helps absorb the nutrients from the sun's rays while giving skin protection at the same time.

"Rather than being afraid of the sun, harmonize with it," Living Libations says. Love it!

Essential Tool: My bike

Not only is this an emission-free way to get around town, but it also gives my body the activity it needs.

Earth Day Tip: Start small

Your one "small" action isn't small at all.

Jordan Simmons, social media coordinator

Favorite Product: Sustainable clothing by Amanda Sage Collection

Designer Lana Gurevich uses patterns from Amanda's transformative paintings to create an ethically and environmentally conscious clothing line. While supporting local businesses and an eco-friendly printing method, the fabrics are made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles.

Essential Tool: My paintbrush and set of mineral paints

I found the all natural, biodegradable mineral paints at a local farmers' market in the Sacred Valley of Peru. I used to favor working with acrylic paints until I learned about their high carbon footprint and harmful substances.

Earth Day Tip: Honor Mother Earth

Gather some of Mother Nature's gifts such as stones, beautiful dried leaves and feathers. Set them in a special place in your home to create a unique "altar" to remind you to honor your Mother each and every day. Find peace and blessings in loving our home—the earth.

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