18 kids sue Environmental Protection Agency in US over climate change

Children allege that the EPA allows life-threatening climate pollution from regulated fossil fuel sources, harming their health.

The group of 18 youth from California alleged that the EPA intentionally harms children's health and welfare (photo: IANS)
The group of 18 youth from California alleged that the EPA intentionally harms children's health and welfare (photo: IANS)
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IANS

Eighteen children between the 8-17 age group have filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its administrator in the US over climate change.

The group of 18 youth from California alleged that the EPA intentionally allows “life-threatening climate pollution to be emitted by the fossil fuel sources of greenhouse gases it regulates, harming children’s health and welfare”.

Plaintiffs also claimed the EPA has discriminated against them as children by discounting the economic value of their lives and their future when it decides whether and how much climate pollution to allow.

The children filed their constitutional climate lawsuit against the EPA, its administrator, Michael Regan and the US federal government.

These 18 children filed their lawsuit because they are experiencing life-threatening climate change injuries, such as the loss of homes from wildfire, adverse health effects, displacement from floods, and being exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution, with lifelong consequences, according to Our Children's Trust, an American nonprofit public interest law firm.

The children who filed the lawsuit are asking the federal court to hear and weigh their evidence, then ultimately issue a declaratory judgment that the EPA has violated their fundamental constitutional rights to equal protection of the law and their fundamental rights to life.

“The plaintiffs also ask, for the first time, for the federal courts to clarify the standard of judicial review to protect the equal protection rights of children as a unique and protected class that is different from adults,” said the non-profit law firm.

The children seek to stop EPA from continuing to allow life-threatening levels of fossil fuel climate pollution and do what scientists say is necessary -- phase out fossil fuel pollution no later than 2050.

In August this year, 16 youth between the ages of five and 22 who had sued the state of Montana for violating their right to a clean environment claimed a big victory.

A state court ruled in their favour, finding that the plaintiffs “have experienced past and ongoing injuries resulting from the State’s failure to consider (greenhouse gases) and climate change, including injuries to their physical and mental health, homes and property, recreational, spiritual, and aesthetic interests, tribal and cultural traditions, economic security, and happiness.”

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