This week the federal government is once again being sued for its decision to ignore the growing threat of climate change. And, just like an earlier lawsuit on this issue, it is being brought by the group that stands to suffer the most from climate inaction: Children.
Two Pennsylvania youth are taking on the Trump administration for what they are calling a “reckless and deliberate indifference” to the issue of climate change. The environmental organization Clean Air Council is bringing the suit on behalf of the children in this case.
Common Dreams explains the grievances brought in the suit:
“Among the actions cited in the suit are ditching the Paris climate accord, stopping methane emissions reporting by oil and gas companies, approving the Keystone XL pipeline, proposing cuts to federal agencies dealing with climate change, proposing the repeal of the Clean Power Plan, and purging scientists from the EPA board of scientific counselors.”
The lawsuit claims that these specific actions are going to create an avoidable problem for the future generation (in this case, the specific children bringing the lawsuit), and therefore infringe upon the Fifth and Ninth Amendment rights of the plaintiffs.
The defendants listed in the suit include President Donald Trump, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, as well as the EPA and Department of Energy.
Much like the pending lawsuit that was filed against state and federal government leaders by Our Children’s Trust a few years ago, this latest suit is incredibly ambitious and has the potential to reshape climate policy in the United States, if it proves to be successful.
So far, the lawsuit brought by Our Children’s Trust has won a few victories on the path to a full-blown trial. The most recent was a ruling by a judge that said that the plaintiffs in the case make a sound, reasonable argument and therefore the case was allowed to move forward. The trial for that case is set to begin in February of 2018.
Both of these legal cases will hinge on whether or not the plaintiffs are expected to endure tangible damages as a result of the actions or inaction of the government. So far, the arguments that have been made in the courtroom have given judges enough evidence to suggest that the damages are real, which is why these cases have been allowed to continue.
A victory in either of these cases has the potential to force the federal government to begin taking serious action on the issue of climate change. In addition, the suits could help reverse the purge of scientists that is currently taking place at the EPA, in which experienced scientific advisors are being removed by the dozen from EPA advisory committees and replaced with members representing the fossil fuel and chemical industries.
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