A landmark lawsuit filed three years ago on behalf of 21 young Americans is headed for trial later this year. The plaintiffs, who ranged in age from 8 to 19 when the suit was filed, allege that the US government is violating their constitutional and public-trust rights by failing to adopt a comprehensive plan to avert dangerous climate change, and by continuing to pursue a national energy policy that permits and promotes the burning of fossil fuels. The youth are supported by the nonprofit organization Our Children’s Trust.
In a Bulletin article published in 2016, Julia Olson, executive director of Our Children’s Trust and co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, wrote that her clients brought their lawsuit “in an effort to force the US government to end its systemic discrimination against young people and future generations and adopt policies that protect them from dangerous climate change.” In the absence of timely climate action by the White House and Congress, the plaintiffs hope that the judiciary will step in to protect them.
The Obama and Trump administrations, as well as the fossil fuel industry, were unsuccessful in getting the case, Juliana v. U.S., dismissed. The trial is scheduled for October 29 in Eugene, Oregon, before a US District Court judge.
Our Children’s Trust is also supporting lawsuits filed against nine individual states by youth plaintiffs. The latest suit was filed on April 16, with eight Florida youth alleging that Governor Rick Scott and other Florida state officials have failed to protect them from harm and “instead have affirmatively acted to exacerbate the climate crisis.” The kids are asking for a jury trial.
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