A group of California teenagers is suing the federal government for endangering the survival of their generation. They hold government responsible for global warming because it hasn't reduced national emissions of carbon dioxide. The teens filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., which is scheduled on Friday to hear motions to dismiss the case.
The juvenile plantiffs are part of an organization called Kids vs. Global Warming, founded by then 12-year-old Alec Loorz of Ventura, California. Now a high-school senior, he says the lawsuit is vital to his survival. "The government has a legal responsibility to protect the future for our children," Loorz declared. "So we are demanding that they recognize the atmosphere as a commons that needs to be preserved, and commit to a plan to reduce emissions to a safe level." Specifically, the youths demand an immediate cap on greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions and a six-percent reduction every year starting in 2013.
Writing in The Atlantic, Katherine Ellison explains this idea of an "atmospheric commons" comes from Oregon attorney Julia Olson and colleague Mary Christina Wood, attempting to build on the idea of the "public trust doctrine," which dictates government action such as issuing hunting licenses to control wildlife populations. As founder of the environmental non-profit Our Children's Trust, Olson invited Loorz and his companions to file the suit. Defendants in Alec L. et. al. vs. Lisa P. Jackson, et. al. include U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and secretaries of the interior, agriculture, commerce, energy, and defense departments. The law firm of former Republican U.S. Representative Paul McCloskey is representing the plaintiffs pro bono.
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