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For Intentionally Acting to 'Exacerbate Climate Crisis,' Youth Filed Suit Against GOP-Led Florida Government

According to one of the plaintiffs, "we need to start working together to implement solutions for climate change or the state of Florida won't exist."

A new lawsuit filed Monday says that Florida, its governor, and numerous state agencies have exercised "deliberate indifference to [plaintiffs'] fundamental rights to a stable climate system in violation of Florida common law and the Florida Constitution." (Photo: Takver/flickr/cc)

A new lawsuit filed Monday says that Florida, its governor, and numerous state agencies have exercised "deliberate indifference" with regards to the young plaintiffs' "fundamental rights to a stable climate system in violation of Florida common law and the Florida Constitution." (Photo: Takver/flickr/cc)

Kids in Florida, says one climate activist, are "rocking it again."

That's because a group of eight young Floridians just filed suit (pdf) against the Republican-controlled state, arguing that it has—as a result of propping up a fossil fuel-based energy system—violated their constitutional rights.

"The reason that I'm a part of this lawsuit is because I believe that the climate change crisis is the biggest threat that my generation will ever have to face," says 18-year-old plaintiff and climate activist Delaney Reynolds. "Right now we live in what I like to call the state of denial because the state of Florida is doing nothing to address climate change, but everything to cause it. That is completely immoral."

"If we ever want to have a future of living here in Florida, if my children ever want to live here in Florida," she adds, "we need to start working together to implement solutions for climate change or the state of Florida won't exist."

In addition to the state, the new suit, Reynolds v. State of Florida, names as defendants Gov. Rick Scott and a number of state agencies including the Department of Environmental Protection. These entities, the suit charges, have exercised "deliberate indifference to [plaintiffs'] fundamental rights to a stable climate system in violation of Florida common law and the Florida Constitution." The lawsuit says these state officials and agencies

are collectively responsible for authorizing, promoting, and permitting fossil fuel production, consumption, transportation, and combustion in the State of Florida, as well as deforestation and soil degradation, and thus allowing CO2 and GHG pollution to rise to dangerous levels and cause substantial harm to plaintiffs. Defendants also have failed to use their authority take the requisite available steps to protect Florida's essential natural resources, including the air and its waters, from dangerous levels of CO2 and GHG pollution. The affirmative aggregate acts and omissions of defendants, jointly and severally, have violated, and continue to violate plaintiffs' inalienable rights protected by the Florida Constitution and by the common law

Because the state has not only "not responded reasonably to this urgent crisis" but has "affirmatively acted to exacerbate the climate crisis," the suit is asking for the court to acknowledge the reality of climate change and the state energy system's impacts on plaintiffs' right to stable climate sytem, and for the court to order the defendants to enact a "climate recovery plan" that slashes emissions and phases out fossil fuel dependence.

The legal effort is being supported by the non-profit Our Children's Trust, which is also behind the landmark Juliana v. United States climate suit as well as a number of similar state-level legal actions underway.

The new lawsuit lays out the impacts of climate change the youth are already experiencing; Reynolds for one, from her homes in Miami and in the Keys, has noticed rising seas increased, an uptick in flooding, increased coral bleaching, and damage from Hurricane Irma.

Another plaintiff is Valholly Frank, a member of the Seminole Tribe. The suit states: "Her tribal heritage is closely linked to nature and many in her tribal community believe that if the land dies, so will the tribe."

"Our politicians can't drive us forward into an unstable and unsafe future. I'm suing because I want to live out my best life possible," the 15-year-old says.

"I want every kid to be able to grow up and watch their kids grow up on the beautiful planet we live on," she adds.

The suit was filed Monday in the circuit court in Leon County.

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