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Jan-14-2014 10:40printcomments

Oral Argument for Oregon Youths' Climate Change Case Heard at University of Oregon School of Law

On Thursday, these young plaintiffs will get to hear what the Oregon Court of Appeals thinks of their alleged rights and of the State’s position that they don’t have a right to have their case heard.

Governor Kitzhaber
A lawsuit was filed against Gov. Kitzhaber and Oregon for failing to protect essential natural resources

(EUGENE) - This Thursday, two Eugene youths’ climate change case (Chenaik v. Kitzhaber) will be argued before the Oregon Court of Appeals in their hometown at the University of Oregon School of Law.

The lawsuit was filed against Governor Kitzhaber and the State of Oregon for failing to protect essential natural resources, including state waters, coast lines, and the atmosphere, as required under the Public Trust Doctrine. Kelsey Juliana, Olivia Chernaik, and their mothers brought the case to compel the Oregon State government to create a viable climate recovery plan for reducing carbon dioxide emissions in order to protect Oregon’s natural resources.

Kelsey and Olivia’s lawsuit has gained a broad base of support across Oregon. Oregon’s political leaders, businesses, agricultural, conservation and student native groups came together to file an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in support of Kelsey and Olivia’s appeal. Eugene’s Mayor Piercy, who will attend the hearing, joined County and Sustainability Commissioners as amici in support of the youth plaintiffs. Their brief details potentially devastating impacts the state faces due to greenhouse gas emissions and climate instability, from ocean acidification to a decrease in agricultural productivity and significant decreases in snowpack and water supply. The Western Environmental Law Center also filed a separateamicus curiae brief on behalf of twenty-two top legal scholars from around the country urging the court to apply the public trust doctrine to the atmosphere. On Thursday, upwards of 75 local kids plan to attend the hearing to see justice in action, along with families, community members and local leaders.

Last month, in an historic public trust doctrine opinion regarding the constitutionality of a statute on hydraulic fracturing, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled on similar issues also central to Kelsey and Olivia’s public trust case. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected a defense raised by the Commonwealth that parallels the State of Oregon’s position, that courts cannot hear cases on issues that should be dedicated only to the political branches of government. The Commonwealth Court found it was within the judiciary’s job to determine whether the laws of the state, including the public trust doctrine, require or prohibit certain acts of the other branches of government. That Court described the people’s public trust rights as inherent and inviolate and part of a social contract with the people. The Pennsylvania and Oregon Constitutions have identical language on reserved rights for the people, stating: “All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness.” It appears the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would agree with Kelsey and Olivia that they have a right to bring their public trust claims to court.

On Thursday, these young plaintiffs will get to hear what the Oregon Court of Appeals thinks of their alleged rights and of the State’s position that they don’t have a right to have their case heard.

Kelsey and Olivia’s case was filed with the help of OUR CHILDREN’S TRUST, an Oregon-based nonprofit orchestrating a global game-changing, youth driven legal campaign. The legal effort advances the fundamental duty of government today: to address the climate crisis based on scientific baselines and benchmarks, and to do so within timeframes determined by scientific analysis.

Short documentary films of Kelsey and other young people taking legal action can be

seen at

Our Children's Trust is a nonprofit organization advocating for urgent emissions reductions on behalf of youth and future generations, who have the most to lose if emissions are not reduced. OCT is spearheading the international human rights and environmental TRUST Campaign to compel governments to safeguard the atmosphere as a "public trust" resource. We use law, film, and media to elevate their compelling voices. Our ultimate goal is for governments to adopt and implement enforceable science-based Climate Recovery Plans with annual emissions reductions to return to an atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration of 350 ppm.



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mememine69 January 14, 2014 7:47 pm (Pacific time)

Not one scientist or IPCC warning has ever agreed beyond "could be" and NEVER have they said or agreed it "will be" "inevitable" or "eventual". Prove me wrong and stop telling children that science agrees as much as YOU do.

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