Trial Date Set for Groundbreaking Kids' Climate Lawsuit
Juliana v. United States was filed in 2015 on behalf of 21 plaintiffs who ranged between 8 to 19 years old at the time. They allege their constitutional and public trust rights are being violated by the government's creation of a national energy system that causes dangerous climate change.
The trial will be heard before U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken in Eugene, Oregon, according to Our Children's Trust, the non-profit group supporting the plaintiffs. Aiken joined the court in 1998 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton.
"We have our trial date. In the coming months there will be depositions of the parties, defendants' disclosure of their experts, and expert depositions in late summer. We will build a full factual record for trial so that the Court can make the best informed decision in this crucial constitutional case," said Julia Olson, executive director of Our Children's Trust and co-lead counsel for the youth plaintiffs, in a statement.
Save the date! 1st day of trial in Juliana v. US scheduled Oct 29! Show your solidarity & empower these brave youth… https://t.co/4tLOGCFNK1— 350 Eugene (@350 Eugene)1523567309.0
The lawsuit was originally filed against President Obama's government before President Trump took office. Incidentally, just days before the case was turned over to the Trump administration, Obama's Justice Department lawyers admitted many of the young plaintiffs' scientific claims were true, including carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations have increased to greater than 400 parts per million.
Additionally, the federal defendants admitted that fossil fuel extraction, development and consumption produce CO2 emissions and that past emissions of CO2 from such activities have increased the atmospheric concentration of CO2.
The Trump administration sought an appeal of the case, but last month, a three-judge panel with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco denied the White House's writ of mandamus petition, a rarely used legal maneuver that would have dismissed the case.
'We'll See You in Court': Kids Climate Lawsuit Moves Forward After Judge Denies Trump https://t.co/AKRvM4EHax… https://t.co/tcy0xe3Y19— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1520518322.0
U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin set the trial date for this Fall despite Trump's DOJ attorneys saying the date "won't work" for the defendants.
They claimed they needed additional time to address expert witness reports and find rebuttal experts, to which Judge Coffin asked: "Where am I missing something? Given your admissions in this case, what is it about the science that you intend to contest with your rebuttal witnesses?"
According to Courthouse News, "U.S. Attorney Marissa Piropato answered that the dispute lies not in disagreement over whether climate change exists, but rather with the kids' conclusion that climate change imperils their future."
Phil Gregory, of Gregory Law Group and co-lead counsel for the youth plaintiffs commented, "By setting a trial date of October 29, 2018 the court clearly recognizes the urgency of the climate crisis. Further, the court stressed that the science should not be in dispute and that the case should be able to proceed in a streamlined fashion. On October 29th climate science will finally have its day in court and the plaintiffs will be ready."
"It is a relief to see that the Court understands how imperative it is to get this trial underway as soon as possible, despite all of the delay tactics the U.S. government continues to try to use," Sophie Kivlehan, 19-year-old plaintiff from Allentown, Pennsylvania said. "I am so excited to have an official trial date on the calendar again so that we can finally bring our voices and our evidence into the courtroom!"
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Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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