Eighteen California children sue the US Environmental Protection Agency about his role in the climate crisis.
In a lawsuit filed Sundayplaintiffs between the ages of eight and 17 allege the federal agency “deliberately” allows dangerous levels of planet-warming emissions from vehicles, power plants, fossil fuel wells and other pollution sources, despite knowledge it endangers children’s health and welfare.
“We are fleeing wildfires, displaced by floods, panicking in hot classrooms during another heat wave. We feel a constant worry about the future, and all around us no one is moving fast enough,” Noah, a 15-year-old plaintiff, said in a statement. (The legal filings and declarations omit minors’ surnames.) “The constitution guarantees every American the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, including and especially children.”
The case, Genesis B v EPA, is the latest in a series of constitutional climate cases led by youth through the non-profit law firm Our Children’s Trust. In August the firm achieved a landmark victory in Montana, when a judge ruled in favor of plaintiffs who claimed the state’s pro-fossil fuel policies violated their right to a clean and healthy environment, as outlined in the state constitution.
Another federal case filed by Our Children’s Trust, 2015s Juliana v. United States, is also pending. In June, a U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the youth plaintiffs, allowing their claims to be decided during the trial in open court; a trial date has yet to be announced.
The Juliana case mentions a settlement of government actors as defendants, including the president and various other agencies and officials. The new suit, by contrast, names just three defendants: the US federal government, the Environmental Protection Agency and current EPA administrator Michael Regan.
“There is one federal agency expressly tasked with keeping the air clean and controlling pollution to protect the health of every child and the welfare of a nation — the EPA,” said Julia Olson, founder and chief legal counsel of Our Children’s Trust, said. statement. “The agency has done the opposite when it comes to climate pollution and it is time for the EPA to be held accountable by our courts for violating the U.S. Constitution and abusing its congressionally delegated authority.”
The EPA’s negligence began when the agency was founded more than 50 years ago, the lawsuit alleges.
“Rather than use its congressionally delegated authority to protect air quality and the climate system … EPA forged an illegal path by authorizing levels of climate pollution that destabilized the foundation and freedom of children’s lives, including Plaintiffs’ n,” the lawsuit said. “In doing so, EPA exceeded its delegated authority and injured the lives, health, welfare, safety, security, dignity, happiness, potential for longevity and an open livable future of Plaintiffs, as children, in violation of the Constitution of the United States. .”
An EPA spokeswoman, Shayla Powell, said the agency could not comment on the lawsuit specifically because it is pending litigation, but that the agency under President Biden is “committed to using the full extent of its authority to protect communities protect and the pollution that drives climate change”. Last month, she noted, the body also had the first ever federal advisory committee exclusively composed of youth and dedicated to the environment.
“EPA appreciates that young people are raising the alarm about climate change,” she said.
Michael Burger, executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, said the case was an “interesting” development.
“The new case demonstrates the continued commitment of young people to seek climate justice, and to hold the federal government’s feet to the fire, through the courts,” he said.