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Federal judge dismisses climate change lawsuit against Trump administration


Judge rules that the court does not have 'the authority to direct national environmental policy'

George Rose/Getty Images

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by two Pennsylvania boys and an environmental group against the Trump administration, Reuters reported. The lawsuit claimed that the federal government had violated the plaintiffs' constitutional rights by rolling back environmental regulations related to climate change.

U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond in Philadelphia ruled that the court doesn't have "the authority to direct national environmental policy."

The lawsuit, Clean Air Council v. United States, was filed in November 2017 when the two boys were 7 and 11.

The lawsuit alleged that the younger boy "suffers from severe allergies" that are "directly impacted by the climate" and the older boy "experiences anxiety" about climate change and suffers from asthma that "is exacerbated by climate change."

Diamond said that the Constitution does not guarantee "life-sustaining climate system," which the Clean Air Council claimed was a due process violation.

"Plaintiffs' disagreement with defendants is a policy debate best left to the political process," Diamond wrote in his ruling. "Because I have neither the authority nor the inclination to assume control of the Executive Branch, I will grant defendants' motion."

The judge dismissed the complaint on grounds that it lacked standing to sue the federal government.

What did the Clean Air Council say?

Joseph Minott, executive director of the Clean Air Council, said the organization would be reviewing its next steps with its lawyers, according to Climate Liability News.

The Trump administration continues to rely on junk science to implement reckless climate change policies in the face of indisputable U.S. and international scientific consensus. For decades, the U.S. government has acknowledged that climate change presents a clear and present danger to life, and represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet. These acts of deliberate indifference are increasing U.S. contributions to climate change, thereby increasing the frequency and intensity of its life-threatening effects, and violating our constitutional rights.

"We are troubled that the opinion states the federal government 'do[es] not produce greenhouse gases' and that 'climate change is the creation of those that pollute the air, not the Government,'" Minott added. "These statements are both irrelevant to our claims and factually incorrect."

What else?

Judge Diamond also criticized U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken who oversaw in a similar case in Oregon. In the lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, a group of young people claimed it was their constitutional right to a "climate system capable of sustaining human life."

"Plaintiffs seek to create an entirely new doctrine — investing the Federal Government with an affirmative duty to protect all land and resources within the United States," Diamond wrote. "The Juliana Court alone has recognized this new doctrine. Again, that Court's reasoning is less than persuasive."

He stated clearly that he does not find a judiciary role in climate change or policy.

"Yet, the Juliana Court certainly contravened or ignored longstanding authority," Diamond added.

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