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Julia Olson, executive director and chief legal counsel at Our Children's Trust, stands with some of the youth plaintiffs from the landmark lawsuit Juliana v. United States. (Photo courtesy of Robin Loznak)

Trump Named Climate Villain Number One in Landmark Youth Suit

'Climate science, not alternative facts, will determine the outcome of our court trial'

Lauren McCauley

Youth plaintiffs suing the federal government for failing to act on climate change have a new villain in their cross-hairs: U.S. President Donald Trump.

The 21 plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States filed a notice (pdf) in federal court on Thursday amending their landmark suit to substitute Donald J. Trump for former President Barack Obama.

"I look forward to taking on the Trump administration, as I think our new president, of all people, needs to have his power checked," said Kiran Ooommen, a 20-year-old plaintiff from Eugene, Oregon.

In the case, which is slated to reach trial this fall, Ooommen and his co-plaintiffs argue that by failing to act on climate change, the U.S. government has violated the youngest generation's constitutional rights and their rights to vital public trust resources.

The original complaint alleges that the government locked in a fossil-fuel based national energy system for more than five decades with full knowledge of the extreme dangers it posed. Now, explains Our Children's Trust, the non-profit supporting the legal action, "the plaintiffs have been further emboldened by President Trump's blatant climate denialism, inspiring them in their fight to secure climate justice and a safe future."

"The policies of the U.S. government that ignore the threat of climate change are only going to get worse under the new presidency, based on Trump's apparent lack of understanding of climate science and his plans to invest further in the fossil fuel industry," Ooommen added. "I cannot imagine a better time than now to remind the federal government of its constitutional obligation to protect the life, liberty and property of the people, not big business."

Pointing to the president's recent orders fast-tracking the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, as well as his pledges to roll back emissions regulations, "cancel" the Paris Climate Agreement, and expand drilling on federal lands, 20-year-old plaintiff Alex Loznak of Roseburg, Oregon said, "These policies could spell disaster for the planet as it approaches critical tipping points such as the destabilization of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. At this historic juncture, the courts must act as a check on President Trump's power, and preserve the climate system upon which civilization and human life depend."

Added fellow Roseburg resident Jacob Lebel, "Climate science, not alternative facts, will determine the outcome of our court trial and that gives me hope for my children's generation and the future of this country."


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