Citizens and Children Are Suing Trump to Save the Planet
March 10, 2018
Bob Egelko / The San Francisco Chronicle & Robert Weissman / Public Citizen
A federal appeals court has given a go-ahead to an unprecedented suit by 21 young people who accuse the federal government of endangering their future, and the planet, by failing to act against global warming. Meanwhile, another legal challenge -- Public Citizen v. Donald J. Trump -- would block Trump's anti-regulatory executive order which would require repealing two existing public safety rules for every new regulation introduced.
Youths' Unprecedented Suit Accusing US of
Endangering Planet Gets OK to Move Forward
Bob Egelko / The San Francisco Chronicle
(March 8, 2018) -- A federal appeals court gave a go-ahead Wednesday to an unprecedented suit by 21 young people who accuse the federal government of endangering their future, and the planet, by failing to act against global warming.
The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco did not delve into the merits of the lawsuit, saying those could be addressed, along with the government's legal challenges, by the presiding judge as the case proceeds. But by denying the Trump administration's request to dismiss the suit, the appellate panel moved the suit one step closer to trial in federal court in Oregon.
"We think we can be there in six months," said Julia Ann Olson of Wild Earth Advocates, lead attorney for the youths. "There will now be a full trial on climate science and what our federal government did to create this dangerous situation."
The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.
Olson said the plaintiffs, from different states, now range in age from 10 to 21. Their suit, filed in Oregon in 2015, aid their future was in imperiled, and their constitutional rights violated, by federal policies that worsen climate change.
Government officials have known for decades that oil, coal and other fossil fuels Image carbon dioxide that heats the atmosphere, But have promoted mining and use of fossil fuels wild temperatures reach his story levels, said the suit, which has grown support from numerous environmental groups.
It relies on the "public trust" legal doctrine, which makes the government responsible for managing natural resources, like land, air and water, for the benefit of its inhabitants.
If they prove constitutional violations, the plaintiffs want the courts to order the government to establish a carbon-free energy system by midcentury.
The suit was filed during Pres. Barack Obama's administration and Olsen said "The evidence keeps building" under Pres. Trump, who is named as a defendant in the case. Trump has denied human-caused climate change, and his administration has promoted coAl mining and offshore oil drilling.
After a federal judge in Oregon refused to dismiss the case, the Trump administration asked the appeals court to intervene. Justice department lawyers argued that the youths' claims had no legal basis, that the court orders they sought would violate the constitutional separation of powers, and that the evidence they demanded from the government would be too burdensome to produce.
The court was unconvinced.
"Litigation burdens are part of our legal system" and the federal government is not immune, Chief Judge Sidney Thomas said in the 3-0 ruling. He said nearly one-fifth of all suits filed in federal court last year named the US as a defendant, and noted that the government can challenge specific demands for evidence before the lower-court judge and seek dismissal again before trial.
Public Citizen Sues Trump over
Pollution and Health Risks
Robert Weissman / Public Citizen
WASHINGTON (March 8, 2018) -- President Trump's outrageous conduct and chaotic governance is hard to ignore. But we can't afford to lose sight of the Trump administration's overriding objectives. This administration aims to give Big Business the power to endanger our families, steal from our pocketbooks and pollute our air -- all to boost profits.
That's why our lawsuit -- Public Citizen v. Donald J. Trump, which would block Trump's anti-regulatory executive order -- is so important. The future of our country is at stake. I know we will rise to the challenge.
The judge has issued a ruling in Public Citizen v. Donald J. Trump. Our case challenges Trump's deregulatory executive order, which makes issuance of one new public protection contingent on repealing two existing ones.
The judge agreed that Trump's edict is likely delaying or blocking adoption of health, safety, environmental and other key regulatory protections.
The executive order, the judge concluded:
"meaningfully restricts agencies' latitude to issue rules and, absent waivers, is likely to delay 'significant regulatory actions.'"
However, the judge concluded that we had not -- so far -- met the stringent legal test of showing that identifiable Public Citizen members are clearly and directly affected by these regulatory delays.
To be clear, this is not a commonsense test.
For example, we showed that the Trump order has delayed a rule requiring that school buses be outfitted with speed limiters to prevent school bus drivers from endangering children by driving at unsafe speeds. And we identified a Public Citizen member who has a child who rides a school bus and will for years to come.
But the judge said that we had to show that her child's bus driver exceeds the speed limit -- not something we can realistically do. However, the judge is giving us a few weeks to amend our court filings, including by using new examples, to bolster our showing that our members are directly affected.
We have made a compelling case that the executive order is illegal and unconstitutional, and we remain optimistic that we will prevail. But no matter what the outcome, this case is likely to be appealed.
The Trump deregulatory executive order is the centerpiece of the administration's overall scheme to help Big Business exploit workers, Wall Street to rip off consumers, Dirty Energy companies to pollute, auto companies to expose us to needless risk, and on and on.
There's no way we're backing down. Not from this case, not from our broader efforts to derail the corporate takeover of our government. Will you stand with us in standing up to Trump? We're in this for as long as it takes.
President, Public Citizen
1600 20th Street, NW / Washington, D.C. 20009