A group of children in California are taking legal action against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their deliberate involvement in exacerbating the current climate crisis.
A group of eighteen children from California are filing a lawsuit against the US Environmental Protection Agency for its involvement in the climate emergency.
A group of individuals aged 8 to 17 have filed a legal case on Sunday, accusing the government agency of knowingly permitting high levels of emissions from vehicles, power plants, fossil fuel sites, and other sources of pollution that contribute to the warming of the planet. The plaintiffs claim that this action puts the health and well-being of children at risk.
“We are fleeing from wildfires, forced to leave our homes due to floods, and struggling in sweltering classrooms during yet another heatwave. We are constantly anxious about the future, and it seems like no one is taking action quickly enough,” stated 15-year-old plaintiff Noah, as reported in legal documents and statements (which do not include minors’ last names). “The Constitution promises every American the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, including and especially children.”
The recent case, Genesis B v EPA, is one of many environmental lawsuits filed by the non-profit organization Our Children’s Trust and led by young people. In August, the organization achieved a significant victory in Montana, where a judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs’ claim that the state’s support of fossil fuels violated their constitutional right to a clean and healthy environment.
A new lawsuit against the federal government, Juliana v United States, was filed by Our Children’s Trust and is currently awaiting a decision. In June, a district court ruled in favor of the young plaintiffs, permitting their case to be heard in a public trial. The date for the trial has not yet been determined.
The Juliana lawsuit lists various government officials, such as the president and multiple agencies, as defendants. However, the recent lawsuit only names three defendants: the federal government of the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the current EPA administrator, Michael Regan.
According to Julia Olson, founder and chief legal counsel of Our Children’s Trust, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for maintaining clean air and regulating pollution in order to safeguard the health of children and the well-being of our country. However, Olson believes that the EPA has failed in this duty when it comes to addressing climate pollution. She argues that the agency should be held accountable by the courts for violating the US Constitution and abusing its authority given by Congress.
According to the lawsuit, the EPA has been negligent since its establishment over 50 years ago.
“The lawsuit argues that instead of utilizing its power granted by Congress to safeguard air quality and the climate, the EPA took an illegal route by approving levels of climate pollution that have disrupted the fundamental rights and freedoms of children’s lives, including those of the plaintiffs. This action has exceeded the EPA’s delegated authority and caused harm to the well-being, health, safety, security, dignity, happiness, potential for longevity, and ability to have a livable future of the plaintiffs, as minors, which is a violation of the United States Constitution.”
According to Shayla Powell, a representative from the EPA, the agency is unable to provide a comment on the ongoing lawsuit. However, she stated that under President Biden’s leadership, the agency is dedicated to utilizing all of its powers to safeguard communities and decrease the pollution that contributes to climate change. Additionally, Powell mentioned that the agency recently formed a federal advisory committee made up solely of young individuals focused on environmental issues, a first in its history.
The EPA acknowledges and values the efforts of young individuals in raising awareness about climate change,” she stated.
According to Michael Burger, who is the executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, the lawsuit marks a noteworthy development.
He stated that the recent case showcases the continued dedication of young individuals to pursue climate justice and to hold the government accountable through legal channels.