Guest essay by Eric Worrall
A Washington State Judge has found in favour of petitioners demanding action on Climate Change.
According to The Blaze;
In what environmentalists are calling a “groundbreaking” ruling, a Washington state judge has ruled that state lawmakers have a “constitutional obligation” to the youth of the state to take action on global warming.
Using some alarming language, King County Superior Court Judge Hollis R. Hill issued a ruling in favor of eight youth petitioners in a case against the Washington Department of Ecology, which will require writing carbon emission rules to protect their generation.
The judge’s ruling said the youths “very survival depends upon the will of their elders to act now, decisively and unequivocally, to stem the tide of global warming…before doing so becomes first too costly and then too late.”
The judge determined the state’s public trust doctrine gives the state a “mandatory duty” to act.
“The state has a constitutional obligation to protect the public’s interest in natural resources held in trust for the common benefit of the people,” the ruling said.
Read more: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/11/20/judge-finds-constitutional-obligation-for-state-to-act-on-global-warming/
To me this judgement stinks of judicial overreach – judges are supposed to enforce laws written by elected legislators, not dictate to legislators what laws they should write.
However, even if this judgement is upheld, the outcome might not be quite what activists expect. A strong case could be made that Renewables don’t work, that Renewables will never be a viable replacement for existing fossil fuel based systems.
Lawmakers who attempt to use this judgement to boost state funding for renewables might actually find themselves exposed to future prosecution.
Correction (EW) – “in favour of” is an oversimplification of a complex judgement. The petition to force The Department of Ecology, amongst other things, to adopt explicit GHG limitations was denied. Since The Department of Ecology “has commenced rule making to establish greenhouse emission standards taking into account science as well as economic, social and political considerations, the department cannot be found to be acting arbitrarily or capriciously”.
However, the judgement appears in many ways to be a victory for the plaintiffs. The aspect of the ruling which greens are celebrating, is that the judge found that The Department of Ecology has a constitutional obligation to protect state resources from the effects of Climate Change. Presumably if the Department of Ecology was not already acting to produce rules which limit GHG emissions, the judgement might have gone against them. The Department of Ecology has the right to consider factors other than climate science, but it has a constitutional obligation to protect State resources from the predicted consequences of GHG emissions, such as ocean acidification, damage to fisheries from warmer sea water, and sea level rise.
If trying to make sense of this judgement makes your head hurt, if you are confused about what it means for The Department of Ecology, you’re not alone.