Group of California children sues EPA, says agency allows climate pollution - East Idaho News

Group of California children sues EPA, says agency allows climate pollution

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(CNN) — A group of 18 California children – ranging in ages from 8 to 17 – has filed a new constitutional climate case in federal court against the US Environmental Protection Agency, alleging it has harmed children’s health and welfare over decades.

The case, Genesis B. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, alleges the EPA “intentionally allows” planet-warming pollution to come from the sources it regulates, such as vehicles and heavy-duty trucks, power plants, and oil and gas wells. It follows the first constitutional climate case in the US, which youth plaintiffs successfully tried in Montana earlier this year.

The case further alleges the agency allows this pollution “despite knowing the harm it causes to children’s health and welfare.” The case was filed Sunday night in US District Court in the Central District of California.

“There is one federal agency explicitly tasked with keeping the air clean and controlling pollution to protect the health of every child and the welfare of a nation—the EPA,” said Julia Olson, chief legal counsel for Our Children’s Trust, in a statement. “The agency has done the opposite when it comes to climate pollution, and it’s time the EPA is held accountable by our courts for violating the US Constitution and misappropriating its congressionally delegated authority.”

The defendants in the case include current EPA Administrator Michael Regan. Regan is presiding over a period of the EPA aggressively attempting to rein in planet-warming pollution from vehicles, power plants and the oil and gas industry.

CNN has reached out to the EPA for comment.

The foundation of this youth climate case goes far beyond the Biden administration. The plaintiffs allege that since the EPA was created five decades ago, it has let the US become one of the world’s biggest emitters of planet-warming pollution, despite knowing this pollution would harm children.

In statements, youth plaintiffs talked about how climate-fueled wildfires, extreme heat and floods have directly impacted their lives.

“We are running from wildfires, being displaced by floods, panicking in hot classrooms during another heat wave,” said Noah, a 15-year-old plaintiff, in a statement. “We feel a constant worry about the future, and all around us, no one is moving fast enough. The Constitution guarantees every American the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, including and especially children.”

The first goal for the youth plaintiffs is a trial in this case. The firm representing the plaintiffs, Our Children’s Trust, argued and won a high-profile climate case in Montana’s state court last year – the first constitutional climate trial in the US.

In the Montana case, District Court Judge Kathy Seeley ruled the state’s continued development of fossil fuels violated a clause in its state constitution that guarantees its citizens the right to a “clean and healthful environment.” Montana is one of several states that have explicit environmental guarantees written into their state constitutions. The state attorney general’s office is currently appealing Seeley’s ruling to the Montana Supreme Court.

Our Children’s Trust attorneys are representing more youth in another state climate case in Hawaii that’s expected to go to trial in June 2024.

Despite the success at the state level, federal climate cases have proven more difficult to even get to trial. Our Children’s Trust is pursuing a separate federal climate case – Juliana v. United States – that they are hoping will go to trial by spring 2024.

The Juliana plaintiffs allege the federal government’s activities allowing further fossil fuel development, including permitting and leasing for oil and gas drilling, is violating young people’s constitutional rights to life, liberty and property.