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Children Suing U.S. Government Over Climate Change Back in Court

Twenty-one young people ages 8 to 19 are arguing that the U.S. government violated their rights by its failure to reduce the effects of climate change. (ItzaFineDay/flickr)
Twenty-one young people ages 8 to 19 are arguing that the U.S. government violated their rights by its failure to reduce the effects of climate change. (ItzaFineDay/flickr)
September 13, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. – A group of young plaintiffs is getting their day in court once again today in Eugene, arguing that the federal government's inaction on climate change is directly harming the well-being of America's youngest generation. The twenty-one plaintiffs range in age from 8 to 19 and are arguing their constitutional right to a healthy planet is being violated because the federal government has failed to protect the planet from climate change.

Philip Gregory, lead attorney representing the youth, said the government has acknowledged that global warming is harming the planet.

"We are representing the 21 youths who are being harmed because the government knew it was substantially damaging them and not only did nothing about it but in fact was the principal reason the harm occurred," he said.

The federal government is asking that the case be dismissed. In April, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin denied all motions for dismissal, but the government, along with members of the fossil-fuel industry, have objected to Coffin's ruling. Oral arguments over the objection will be heard by U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken.

Gregory said companies such as Exxon have joined the federal government in trying to stop this case from going forward, not allowing these young people to have a proper day in court.

"What the children want and all they want is to put the best scientists up on the witness stand and have the scientists say whether or not the federal government was a substantial cause of the problem and if so, what is the way to solve the problem," he added.

Oral arguments for the case will take place at 10 a.m. at the Wayne Lyman Morse United States Courthouse. A press conference will be held immediately following the hearing, which is expected to be around noon.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR