Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Youths across US Suing to Push Government on Climate Change

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Youths across US Suing to Push Government on Climate Change

Article excerpt

SEATTLE * They can't vote yet, but dozens of young people want a say in the planet's future, so minors nationwide have been suing states and the federal government in recent years to push action on climate change.

They say their generation will bear the brunt of global warming and that government at every level has an obligation to protect natural resources, including the atmosphere, as a "public trust" for future generations.

The Oregon-based nonprofit Our Children's Trust has been leading efforts to file lawsuits or administrative petitions in every state and against the federal government. Some of the youth-led cases have been dismissed, while others are pending in states including Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Oregon.

"None of them have gotten to the finish line," said Michael Gerrard, a professor and director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. "It's an uphill climb. The U.S. courts have so far not wanted to set climate policy."

Other experts say it's unclear how a state can combat a global problem.

In Seattle, eight activists between ages 10 and 15 petitioned Washington state last year to adopt stricter, science-based regulations to protect them against climate change. The case has been moving through a state court, and oral arguments are scheduled Tuesday.

"We're the ones who have to live with it if the oceans are acidic and the planet is 5 degrees warmer," said Gabriel Mandell, 13, an eighth-grader and plaintiff in the case. "The snowpack is melting. Ocean is acidifying. The Earth is warming. Everything that can go wrong is going wrong, and we need to fix it."

Mandell and other youths represented by the Western Environmental Law Center argue that Washington state has failed to reduce carbon emissions based on the best available science. They say the government has violated the state constitution and the legal principle called the public trust doctrine, which requires the government to protect shared resources.

The state responded that the Washington Department of Ecology department was working on adopting a rule to reduce emissions. …

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