A large turnout is expected at a federal court in Eugene, Oregon on Wednesday where a judge will decide on whether or not to dismiss a landmark lawsuit brought by a group of 21 youths, along with noted climate scientist James Hansen, who charge that the federal government and fossil fuel industry have violated their constitutional rights.
The case is necessary, stated 19-year-old Kelsey Juliana, the youth plaintiff for whom the case is named, because “[g]overnmental inaction on climate is no longer an option.”
And it may be, according to author and climate activist Naomi Klein, “the most important case on the planet right now.”
The suit (pdf) charges that the defendants—including President Barack Obama and federal agencies including the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and Environment Protection agency—by continuing “to permit, authorize, and subsidize fossil fuel extraction, development, consumption and exportation,” thereby fueling a massive rise in atmospheric CO2, “have acted with deliberate indifference to the peril they knowingly created.”
“As a result, Defendants have infringed on Plaintiffs’ fundamental constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property. Defendants’ acts also discriminate against these young citizens, who will disproportionately experience the destabilized climate system in our country.”
Powerful fossil fuel industry groups previously joined the suit as co-defendants to defeat the youths.
As 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben tweeted Tuesday, “it’s literally small children vs. Big Oil.”
“The federal government and the fossil fuel industry seek to get this case dismissed because they have known for decades that fossil fuels are destroying our climate system and harming our kids,” stated Philip Gregory with the California law firm Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, which is participating in the case.
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