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Groundbreaking Youth Climate Lawsuit Against U.S. Government Can Proceed
A federal judge on Monday rejected the Trump administration's last-ditch efforts to derail a landmark constitutional climate lawsuit brought by 21 youth plaintiffs, preserving the trial start date of Oct. 29 in Eugene, Oregon.
The judge largely rejected the government's arguments but granted the administration's motion to dismiss President Donald Trump as a defendant.
The judge said the students can get what they want by suing officials below the president, but she left the door open for Trump to be reinstated as a defendant in the case, if necessary.
Lawyers for the teens had argued the president shouldn't be excused for failing in his official capacity to protect the environment from rising global temperatures while subsidizing fossil fuel-dependent industries.
The groundbreaking lawsuit targets the government for creating policies that encouraged climate change, and for violating the country's youngest citizens their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, as well as failing to protect essential public trust resources.
On Friday, government attorneys filed a third writ of mandamus petition, a rarely used legal maneuver, to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to stay district court proceedings, according to Our Children's Trust, the non-profit group supporting the youth plaintiffs. Judges with the Ninth Circuit denied the first two petitions, saying the petitions were not justified.
"To suggest that our government suffers harm greater than its citizens by having to participate in a trial when its youngest citizens bring legitimate claims of constitutional harm before our Article III courts flies in the face of democratic principles," Julia Olson, executive director and chief legal counsel of Our Children's Trust, said in a press release Friday. "We are going to trial on October 29th."
The Department of Justice also plans to file a second writ of mandamus petition with the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 17, the press release said. In July, the high court ruled that the administration's motion to dismiss the case was "premature."
As the scheduled trial date approaches, Our Children's Trust has organized rallies across the country on Oct. 28-29 to rally support for the plaintiffs.
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Ethics investigations have been opened into the conduct of senior Trump appointees at the nation's top environmental agencies.
The two investigations focus on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and six high-ranking officials in the Department of Interior (DOI), The Hill reported Tuesday. Both of them involve the officials' former clients or employers.
"This is demonstrative of the failures at the very top of this administration to set an ethical tone," Campaign Legal Center Ethics Counsel Delaney Marsco told The Washington Post of the DOI investigation. "When people come to work for government, they're supposed to work on behalf of the public. It's a betrayal of the public trust when senior political appointees seem to give privileged access to their former employers or former clients."
By Dipika Kadaba
We've known for more than 50 years that smoking cigarettes comes with health hazards, but it turns out those discarded butts are harmful for the environment, too. Filtered cigarette butts, although small, contain dozens of chemicals, including arsenic and benzene. These toxins can leach into the ground or water, creating a potentially deadly situation for nearby birds, fish and other wildlife.
By Wenonah Hauter
Five years ago this week, an emergency manager appointed by then-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made the devastating decision to save money by switching Flint's water supply over from Detroit's water system to the Flint River. Seen as a temporary fix, the new water supply was not properly treated. High levels of lead leached from the old pipes, poisoning a generation of Flint's children, and bacteria responsible for an outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease killed more than a dozen residents.
Did you know that more than a third of food is wasted or thrown away every year? And that only 25 percent of it would be enough to feed the 795 million undernourished people in the world? That's why today is Stop Food Waste Day, a chance to reflect on what you can do to waste less of the food you buy.