In youth-led climate lawsuit, judge denies desperate Trump appeal

On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken issued an order denying motions filed by the Trump Administration and the fossil fuel industry. The motions sought to appeal her November 10, 2016, decision in ​Juliana v. United States.

The failed appeal of the administration and its fossil fuel allies is seen by many as a desperate act.  Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court has called legal moves of this nature “drastic and extraordinary” remedies to be used under “exceptional circumstances” only.

Alex Loznak​, 20, of Roseburg, Oregon, one of 21 youth plaintiffs, said:

The more evidence we gather for our case, the more I realize how decisively we can win at trial. It’s no wonder the Trump Administration wants to avoid the trial by seeking an unwarranted, premature appeal. Today’s ruling brings us one step closer to trial and to winning our lawsuit.​

Last month, three fossil fuel companies—the ​National Association of Manufacturers​, the ​American Petroleum Institute​, and the ​American Fuel & and Petrochemical Manufacturers, all of which intervened on behalf of the federal administration—filed motions requesting the court for permission to withdraw.

Julia Olson​, co-lead counsel for plaintiffs and executive director of​​ Our Children’s Trust​, said:

We are on our way to trial! With industry walking away from the case and the Trump Administration’s effort at procedural delay firmly rejected, we can focus on the merits of these youths’ constitutional claims.

Juliana v. United States​ was brought by 21 young plaintiffs who argue that failure of the government to avert a climate disaster violates their constitutional and public trust rights. ​This case is one of many related legal actions brought by youth in several states and countries, all supported by Our Children’s Trust, seeking science-based action by governments to stabilize the climate system.

These developments coincide with an emerging movement in Rhode Island, spearheaded by Nature’s Trust RI.  Referring to the failure of the Rhode Island state government to live up to its duty to maintain a livable climate for present and future generations, Nature’s Trust RI’s web site states:

The state must also come to terms with the urgency of swift, sharp cuts in greenhouse gas emissions needed to avoid pushing the globe off the climate cliff.

To do this, we need to look at all sectors of our state’s economy and make an inventory of emissions including the full life cycle of all goods and services involved. In weighing the impacts of different greenhouse gases, our top priority must be to avoid runaway climate change in the near term.

The website features a growing list of participants speaking out.

Nature’s Trust RI is sponsored by Fossil Free Rhode Island.

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Fossil Free Rhode Island spurs real action on runaway climate change, which poses a mortal threat to the biosphere of which the human species is a part. We seek to redress inequitable distribution of environmental burdens of both local and global impact. We believe that all institutions that serve the public good should divest from fossil fuels.
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