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Court strikes down youth climate lawsuit on Biden administration request
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Court strikes down youth climate lawsuit on Biden administration request

A federal appeals court on Wednesday evening granted the Biden administration’s request to strike down a landmark federal youth climate case, outraging climate advocates.

“This is a tragic and unjust ruling,” said Julia Olson, attorney and founder of Our Children’s Trust, the non-profit law firm that brought the suit.

The lawsuit, Juliana v United States, was filed by 21 young people from Oregon who alleged the federal government’s role in fueling the climate crisis violates their constitutional rights.

The Wednesday order from a panel of three Trump-appointed judges on the ninth circuit court of appeals will require a US district court judge to dismiss the case for lack of standing, with no opening to amend the complaint.

The decision affirmed an emergency petition filed by the justice department in February arguing that “the government will be irreparably harmed” if it is forced to spend time and resources litigating the Juliana case. It’s a measure the justice department should never have taken, said Olson.

“The Biden administration was wrong to use an emergency measure to stop youth plaintiffs from having their day in court,” she said in a statement. “The real emergency is the climate emergency.”

The lawsuit has faced numerous obstacles since it was first filed in 2015. A different panel of judges on the ninth circuit court of appeals previously ordered the case to be dismissed in 2020, on the grounds that the climate crisis must be addressed with policy, not litigation. But a US district court judge allowed the plaintiffs to amend their lawsuit, and last year ruled the case could go to trial.

Olson said the fight for the Juliana plaintiffs is “not over”.

“President Biden can still make this right by coming to the settlement table,” she said. “And the full ninth circuit can correct this mistake.” The Biden administration has not indicated it will come to the settlement table.

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Litigation filed by Our Children’s Trust has seen success elsewhere. Earlier this year, Montana’s supreme court upheld upheld a groundbreaking decision requiring state regulations to consider the climate crisis before approving permits for fossil fuel development. Youth plaintiffs have similar pending lawsuits in Hawaii – which will go to trial in June – as well Florida, Utah and Virginia.

In December, Our Children’s Trust filed another federal lawsuit on behalf of a group of California youths, targeting the Environmental Protection Agency.

Source: theguardian.com