Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The Ninth Circuit is currently hearing an attempt by the Juliana v. United States plaintiffs to halt all fossil fuel extraction in the United States.
The kids suing the government over climate change want to halt fossil fuel extraction
The plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States say they’ve been denied their right to a safe and stable climate.
If the injunction is granted, it would lead to a nationwide moratorium on new fossil fuel permitting and leasing on federal lands and waters until the lawsuit is resolved. No small matter. However, existing mining and drilling projects would still proceed.
Philip Gregory, one of the lead attorneys representing the children filing suit, explained that the injunction request is meant to address the urgency of limiting climate change by reducing emissions from fossil fuels immediately. With the case currently tied up in appeals, the plaintiffs wanted to make sure the current state of affairs with respect to climate change doesn’t get worse as the wheels of justice slowly turn.
“We would have preferred to go to trial, submit our extensive evidence, and have the judge require the defendants to come up with a plan, a national climate recovery plan, for how they’re going to go about doing this,” Gregory said.
In response, the federal government argued this week that the injunction maneuver is a ploy to bypass proper legal proceedings. “Indeed, Plaintiffs by their present motion are essentially making a bid in this Court for a substitute mini-trial or ‘trial lite’ — which is premature until the pure issues of law now being briefed in this interlocutory appeal are appropriately resolved as a threshold matter,” wrote attorneys for the US Department of Justice. They described the injunction request as an “ambitious attempt to throttle important government functions superintending broad swaths of the national economy.”
The government also noted that the Juliana lawsuit was filed more than three years ago but the plaintiffs hadn’t asked to block fossil fuel leasing until now, which undermines the plaintiffs’ argument that without immediate action, they would suffer irreparable harm.
A copy of the injunction is available here.
Even President Obama did not support this case – when James Hansen urged Obama to tie President Trump’s hands on climate policy. by settling the case in the plaintiff’s favour, President Obama refused.
I feel sorry for the kids, whom I see as victims of callous green political manipulation. This court case will almost certainly eventually be tossed out, and those poor kids will likely have to live with the crushing disappointment of being tossed aside by their former green friends once they are no longer any immediate use to the green movement.