Kids Name Trump as Defendant in Landmark Climate Case
Youth plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States filed a notice Thursday with a federal court in Oregon, naming Donald J. Trump as a defendant in their landmark climate case on pace for trial this fall. Plaintiffs have substituted President Trump as a named party in place of former President Barack Obama under the Federal Rules.
Youth Seek Testimony From Exxon's #RexTillerson in Federal Climate Lawsuit https://t.co/xk9OyqVyqQ via @EcoWatch— The YEARS Project (@The YEARS Project)1483311009.0
In Juliana v. United States, 21 young plaintiffs sued the federal government for violating their constitutional rights and their rights to vital public trust resources. The complaint alleges the government locked in a fossil-fuel based national energy system for more than five decades with full knowledge of the extreme dangers it posed. The plaintiffs have been further emboldened by President Trump's blatant climate denial, inspiring them in their fight to secure climate justice and a safe future.
"I look forward to taking on the Trump administration, as I think our new president, of all people, needs to have his power checked," said Kiran Ooommen, 20-year-old plaintiff from Eugene, Oregon. "President Trump benefits financially from the fossil fuel industry, but his benefit comes at a heavy cost for the rest of us. The policies of the U.S. government that ignore the threat of climate change are only going to get worse under the new presidency, based on Trump's apparent lack of understanding of climate science and his plans to invest further in the fossil fuel industry."
Australia's Chief Scientist Compares #Trump to Stalin https://t.co/2lZGo8JePW @SierraClub @greenpeaceusa @NRDC @MarkRuffalo— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1486479601.0
"We are ready to bring this case to trial with President Trump as a defendant," said Julia Olson, counsel for plaintiffs and executive director and chief legal counsel at Our Children's Trust. President Trump will not be able to perpetuate climate denialism in a court of law. That's just not going to happen."
At the Feb. 7 case management conference, Federal Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin made clear that the court will work closely with the parties throughout the pre-trial discovery process. He instructed all parties to prioritize expert discovery on the scientific components of the case and scheduled another status conference for March 8.
Judge Coffin encouraged all parties to streamline next steps to move the case to trial. At one point, Judge Coffin asked counsel for the fossil fuel industry if CO2 levels in the atmosphere are at 400 parts per million, as the federal government admitted. The fossil fuel attorneys responded that they did not know. Judge Coffin instructed counsel for the fossil fuel industry to determine whether they will contest facts that have been admitted by the federal government, including whether climate change is caused by burning fossil fuels.
At the end of the conference, counsel for the federal government surprised those in the courtroom when he stated the government is considering an early appeal of last fall's rulings denying motions to dismiss. Plaintiffs look forward to working diligently to complete discovery and have this case ready for trial in 2017.
On Jan. 24, lawyers for the youth plaintiffs notified the U.S. government that it must retain all documents, records and tangible things relating to the plaintiffs' claims in their complaint. On Monday, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Catherine McCabe confirmed that documents and records would not be destroyed. McCabe said: "We have taken no actions to delete data and we are taking steps to preserve and make available the scientific data and information that we have collected over the years …"
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By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
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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