Thursday, March 10, 2016

Our Children's Trust vs. Big Oil - Federal Lawsuit

I tend to distance myself from the news, it gets too distracting, and I'd get nothing done, so I'm often playing catch up regarding the latest happenings.  But, dealing with frolly's video is so depressing that I've been drifting.  Then I came upon this story that's impressive and worth sharing.  Why?  Because this is what I'm talking about.  Stand up and say enough is enough, be it oil company lawyers, government inaction, or lying about what scientists are actually telling us.

I wasn't able to find any news post-hearing, but soon as I do I'll share.

Our Children's Trust 2015 Federal Lawsuit

On Wednesday, March 9 at 10 am, Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin will hear oral arguments for motions to dismiss in the landmark constitutional climate change case brought by 21 young people from Oregon and around the Nation.

21 young people from across the United States have filed a landmark constitutional climate change lawsuit against the federal government in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. Also acting as a Plaintiff is world-renowned climate scientist Dr. James E. Hansen, serving as guardian for future generations and his granddaughter. The Complaint asserts that, in causing climate change, the federal government has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, property, as well as failed to protect essential public trust resources.
The Complaint alleges the Federal Government is violating the youth’s constitutional rights by promoting the development and use of fossil fuels. 

These young Plaintiffs are challenging the federal government’s national fossil fuel programs, as well as the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal in Coos Bay, OR. Plaintiffs seek to hold President Obama and various federal agencies responsible for continued fossil fuel exploitation. The Federal Government has known for decades that fossil fuels are destroying the climate system. No less important than in the Civil Rights cases, Plaintiffs seek a court order requiring the President to immediately implement a national plan to decrease atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (“CO2”) to a safe level: 350 ppm by the year 2100.

Some background, though for the full story visit their website:
January 6, 2016

Youth Plaintiffs and Dr. Hansen on behalf of Future Generations, filed a strong response in opposition to the Federal Government’s motion to dismiss the case. In their brief, they argue that the plaintiffs have standing to bring their case (they are being harmed by the Defendants’ acts and the court can redress it) and that they have brought valid claims under the U.S. Constitution and the federal Public Trust Doctrine. 

In a declaration submitted by John Davidson, and Oregon-based constitutional law scholar, the historical and traditional bases for Plaintiffs' claims are explained. 

Plaintiffs are also supported by the expert testimony of Dr. Michael MacCracken, who the Supreme Court relied upon in Massachusetts v. EPA, and of course, by plaintiff Dr. Jim Hansen. Dr. Hansen’s testimony directly links sea level rise projections to the homes and properties of the Plaintiffs, some of whom would find their family’s property underwater, if the Federal Defendants continue on their course and the climate system is not stabilized. The hearing date is currently set for February 17, 2:00 p.m. in the federal courthouse in Eugene, Oregon.


November 12, 2015

World’s Largest Petroleum Companies Call Youth’s Landmark Climate Lawsuit “a Direct Threat to [Their] Businesses”

Motion to Intervene Aligns Fossil Fuel Industry with President Obama and the U.S. Government Ahead of Paris Climate Talks

Youth's landmark climate lawsuit against the Federal Government just got the attention of the powerful Fossil Fuel Industry. Today, nearly every oil and gas company in the world asked for permission to oppose the landmark climate lawsuit brought against President Obama and the federal government by America’s youth and Dr. James E. Hansen -- as guardian for future generations. 

In an unusual step, the immense fossil fuel industry trade groups all filed pleadings in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon seeking to join the lawsuit side by side with President Obama to protect their companies’ interests.

The proposed interveners constitute a veritable who’s who of major corporate polluters, including the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (representing members Exxon Mobil, BP, Shell, Koch Industries, and virtually all other U.S. refiners and petrochemical manufacturers), the American Petroleum Institute (representing 625 oil and natural gas companies), and the National Association of Manufacturers.

“Big Oil is starting to lose control of our political system.” declared Alex Loznak, a youth plaintiff in the case from Oregon.


August 12, 2015, International Youth Day

America’s Youth File Landmark Climate Lawsuit Against U.S. Government and President


All Eyes on Oregon Courtroom Where It's "Small Children vs Big Oil"
'Governmental inaction on climate is no longer an option.'
Andrea Germanos | Published on Wednesday, March 09, 2016 | Common Dreams

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.

"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.

The young plaintiffs, meanwhile, merely "ask their fundamental constitutional rights and their futures not be subordinated to corporate dollars," reads a press statement  from the Eugene, Ore.-based nonprofit Our Children's Trust, which is coordinating the youths' legal battle. ...

"We are telling our government that we have a constitutional right to survival, and no group of politicians or corporations can take those rights away from us or future generations," Juliana added.

Explaining what the youth are asking for in the suit, Julia Olson, lead counsel for the plaintiffs and Executive Director of Our Children’s Trust, explains that they seek "a meaningful remedy in the form of a science-based climate recovery plan. Because they recognize that it is the government's responsibility to create and implement a plan, they are not asking for a specific plan.

"But the government's plan must be based on science. And it must work," she continued. "Because a plan that does not work—or worse, and like we have now, no climate recovery plan at all—will mean a future for these youth that is simply unfathomable."

Based on the number of people expected to come in support of the case, a live-stream of the oral arguments will be brought into three overflow courtrooms at the Wayne Lyman Morse courthouse in Eugene, as well as to a courtroom in Portland, Ore., according to Curtis Morrison, a volunteer law clerk with Our Children’s Trust.

Thank you common dreams for your Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

21 Kids Are Suing President Obama Over Climate Inaction

The complaint accuses the government of infringing on “the fundamental right of citizens to be free from government actions that harm life, liberty, and property” by “approving and promoting fossil fuel development.”

By Zoë Carpenter  |  MARCH 9, 2016

On Wednesday, a group of kids and teenagers will face off in an Oregon courtroom against the US government and the fossil fuel industry. 

“For over fifty years, the United States of America has known that carbon dioxide (“CO2”) pollution from burning fossil fuels was causing global warming and dangerous climate change, and that continuing to burn fossil fuels would destabilize the climate system on which present and future generations of our nation depend for their wellbeing and survival,” reads their complaint, which was filed in September by Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon-based nonprofit that has brought a series of similar suits at the state level. “Despite this knowledge, Defendants continued their policies and practices of allowing the exploitation of fossil fuels.”

The heart of their argument is that government, by failing to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions, is violating young people’s Fifth and Ninth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection, as well as the “public trust” doctrine, which holds that certain natural resources must be protected for public use. Climate inaction is a form of discrimination, they argue, because young people will be impacted more severely by climate change than the current generation of policymakers. The suit asks the court to order the government to “cease their permitting, authorizing, and subsidizing of fossil fuels and, instead, move to swiftly phase out CO2 emissions.” ...


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