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The Kids Suing the Government Over Climate Change Want to Halt Fossil Fuel Extraction
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=50222"><span class="small">Umair Irfan, Vox</span></a>   
Saturday, 23 February 2019 13:28

Irfan writes: "The attorneys representing young people who are suing the federal government in a major climate change lawsuit recently took the unusual step of filing an injunction to stop all new leases for fossil fuel production."

Earth Guardians Youth Director Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, one of the plaintiffs in the Juliana v. US climate lawsuit, speaks outside the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017. (photo: Robin Loznak/Our Children's Trust)
Earth Guardians Youth Director Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, one of the plaintiffs in the Juliana v. US climate lawsuit, speaks outside the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017. (photo: Robin Loznak/Our Children's Trust)


The Kids Suing the Government Over Climate Change Want to Halt Fossil Fuel Extraction

By Umair Irfan, Vox

23 February 19


The plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States say they’ve been denied their right to a safe and stable climate.

he attorneys representing young people who are suing the federal government in a major climate change lawsuit recently took the unusual step of filing an injunction to stop all new leases for fossil fuel production.

If the injunction is granted, it would lead to a nationwide moratorium on new fossil fuel permitting and leasing on federal lands and waters until the lawsuit is resolved. No small matter. However, existing mining and drilling projects would still proceed.

The Juliana v. United States lawsuit, filed by 21 young plaintiffs, is currently going through pre-trial appeals at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The suit alleges that not only did the federal government fail to act to limit climate change, it profited off of selling coal, oil, and gas rights. The government encouraged mining and drilling while knowing full well the hazards caused by burning these fuels, namely climate change. In so doing, the government has deprived the plaintiffs — the youngest is 11 years old — the right to a safe and stable climate system.

The lawsuit was first filed in 2015 but has proceeded in starts and stops. At one point, the Supreme Court stepped in to pause the case days before the trial before allowing it to go ahead. An appeals court has now stepped in to consider the government’s motion to dismiss the case. Then on February 7, the plaintiffs filed their injunction against new fossil fuel extraction on government territory.

Philip Gregory, one of the lead attorneys representing the children filing suit, explained that the injunction request is meant to address the urgency of limiting climate change by reducing emissions from fossil fuels immediately. With the case currently tied up in appeals, the plaintiffs wanted to make sure the current state of affairs with respect to climate change doesn’t get worse as the wheels of justice slowly turn.

“We would have preferred to go to trial, submit our extensive evidence, and have the judge require the defendants to come up with a plan, a national climate recovery plan, for how they’re going to go about doing this,” Gregory said.

As Gregory and the other attorneys for the children wrote in their injunction request, “This injunction is urgently needed because, despite long-standing knowledge of the resulting destruction to our Nation and the profound harm to these young Plaintiffs, Defendants’ ongoing development of the fossil fuel-based energy system is actively harming Plaintiffs and jeopardizing Plaintiffs’ ability to obtain the full remedy in their case.”

Numerous experts including retired Navy Vice Admiral Lee Gunn, economist Joseph Stiglitz, and climate scientist Eric Rignot have also filed amicus briefs supporting the injunction against new federal fossil fuel development.

In response, the federal government argued this week that the injunction maneuver is a ploy to bypass proper legal proceedings. “Indeed, Plaintiffs by their present motion are essentially making a bid in this Court for a substitute mini-trial or ‘trial lite’ — which is premature until the pure issues of law now being briefed in this interlocutory appeal are appropriately resolved as a threshold matter,” wrote attorneys for the US Department of Justice. They described the injunction request as an “ambitious attempt to throttle important government functions superintending broad swaths of the national economy.”

The government also noted that the Juliana lawsuit was filed more than three years ago but the plaintiffs hadn’t asked to block fossil fuel leasing until now, which undermines the plaintiffs’ argument that without immediate action, they would suffer irreparable harm.

However, Gregory noted that the government didn’t object to any of the evidence presented in the plaintiff’s injunction request, nor did it present any new evidence for its request to deny the request. “Because there is no contrary evidence, then we are very optimistic that this injunction will go through,” Gregory said.

The Juliana v. United States is just one of more than a dozen climate change lawsuits underway in the US right now. Besides suing the government, several counties and cities are seeking damages from coal, oil, and gas companies for contributing to climate change, which in turn is posing a public nuisance to these jurisdictions.

Legal experts say that these lawsuits are long shots and they’re testing the limits of what existing jurisprudence covers. But if they succeed, they could set critical precedents, lead to billion-dollar payouts, and radically reshape the effort to limit global warming.

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+8 # Wise woman 2019-02-23 17:34
When people's very lives are on the line, the energy to keep striving is very strong. These kids have no future the way things stand now. Those of us who are older and figure they won't be around are doing a major disservice to these young people. Who's to say that one of the side effects of climate change won't be longevity. Then the old folks of today will have to face the music. Better they should get off the couch and check out what they can do now if nothing more than to give their grandkids a break. They didn't ask for this manmade disaster!!!
 
 
+3 # DongiC 2019-02-23 23:08
America should:

(1). Take immediate steps to shut down the entire coal and fuel oil
industries. We must move faster against global warming.

(2). Begin immediate preparations to develop new sources of renew-
able energies. Such as wind, solar, thermal and hydroelectric.
Also, we should develop better storage devices like batteries.

(3). Since the right wing gun nuts will be enraged anyway, we should
ban all assault rifles and place severe restrictions on the sale and
manufacture of any unusual firearms like enlarged magazines or
any device that will automate a weapon (rifle, pistol).
 
 
+4 # pushingforpeace 2019-02-24 03:37
Vote only for candidates who support the Green New Deal.
 
 
0 # pushingforpeace 2019-02-25 09:40
We need the Green New Deal. We needed it decades ago!!! Opposed any politician who tries to slow that down and support those who represent it.