Twenty-one teenagers from ten states and the Yankton Sioux Tribe, along with an adult acting on behalf of future generations, have cleared an important hurdle in their novel lawsuit against the United States government for contributing to climate change.
The plaintiffs, represented by the organization, Our Children’s Trust, filed a complaint in September of 2015 alleging that the government has known about the dangers of climate change since 1965 and has continued to allow and promote the production and use of fossil fuels which have caused, and will increasingly cause, harms to the natural systems critical to plaintiffs’ lives, liberty and property. The plaintiffs also argue that the government’s actions discriminate against younger people and future generations because they will suffer the most as climate change worsens, and that they have violated the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to be sustained by our country’s vital natural systems. Finally, the plaintiffs argue that the government’s actions in contributing to climate change have violated its duty to protect the natural resources held for the plaintiffs and future generations in trust.
On April 28, 2016, a federal magistrate judge recommended to the district court judge that the case be allowed to go forward. Regardless of what happens, the district court’s decision is likely to be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a higher level of review. The teenager’s ability to move forward with the suit will continue to be in play in Oregon and is not likely to be settled for some time.
For more information and to follow the case see ourchildrenstrust.org.