SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A landmark lawsuit heads to federal court in San Francisco Monday.filed by a group of kids going after the President over policies they say are destroying their world.
The lawsuit was originally filed in 2015 against President Barack Obama, but has now been extended to President Trump.
21-year old Kelsey Juliana is the oldest of a group of nearly two dozen young people who are suing President Trump and the federal government. It’s an unprecedented global warming lawsuit that claims the government is violating the constitutional right of its citizens to have a healthy planet by not doing enough to limit the use of fossil fuels.
“We’re here on very basic grounds: that every single citizen has fundamental, inalienable rights to natural resources necessary for life,” said Juliana.
Levi Draheim is the youngest in the group at age 10.
“I’m like the kind of kid that likes to be outside and hang outside and do stuff outside,” said Draheim. “I realize that if climate change continues, then our planet, the outdoors, nature might be completely destroyed.”
The kids are preparing to appear at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Monday morning. The three-judge panel will decide whether their case will continue.
While the Justice Department tried to get the case thrown out, a federal judge in Oregon agreed to hear it.
“If your government is harming you, then it is up to the courts to step in and tell it to stop,” said attorney Phil Gregory with the firm Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy. “They did that in the Brown vs. Board of Education case. They did that in the gay marriage case . The government can not cause you harm and this government is harming these kids.”
“They do things like subsidizing fossil-fuel energies, actively developing fossil fuel infrastructure, leasing out public lands for fossil fuel production,” said 20-year-old plaintiff Alex Loznak. “Not only has the government known about climate change for the past at least five decades, they’ve actually taken policy steps and actions that have exacerbated the problem and made it worse.”
“Sustainability isn’t just this hippy thing, but it’s something we all need,” said 17-year-old plaintiff Aji Piper. “Like an unsustainable emotional relationship, you get abusive relationships and everybody recognizes that that’s bad. Well, let’s say that we are abusing the earth We are in an unsustainable abusive relationship with our planet. And that’s what we’re trying to fix.”
KPIX 5 asked several of the group of plaintiffs whether they were nervous about speaking before the court, but none of the well-spoken youths expressed any concerns. They said they were more worried about what might happen to the planet if they lose the decision.