While President Joe Biden is showcasing his environmental accomplishments during his recent trip to the West, including designating a new national monument at the Grand Canyon and highlighting legislative achievements such as the Inflation Reduction Act, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) is engaged in a legal battle to prevent a significant youth climate lawsuit from proceeding to trial.
The lawsuit, known as Juliana v.
United States, was initially filed in 2015 by a group of 21 young people, currently aged 15 to 27, who argue that the federal government’s continued use of fossil fuels is violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.
Although an appeals court dismissed the case in 2021, a federal judge in Oregon ruled that an amended version of the case could proceed to trial.
The case has the potential to become the first federal trial for a constitutional climate case.
However, the Biden DOJ is opposing this and is advocating for the case to return to an appeals court instead.
The DOJ’s argument is based on the previous ruling that the youth plaintiffs lack legal standing and that the case should not proceed to a trial.
The DOJ contends that there is no federal public trust doctrine guaranteeing a stable climate system and that the government cannot be held responsible for damage to the Earth’s atmosphere.
Despite Biden’s emphasis on his climate policies, the administration’s DOJ is opposing the case with a similar stance to that of the Trump and Obama administrations.
Critics argue that the Biden administration’s actions on the ground do not align with his climate rhetoric, as the government continues to support fossil fuel energy.
Legal experts note that even if the case goes to trial, the road ahead for the youth plaintiffs could be challenging.
The current conservative US Supreme Court’s track record on climate and environmental issues suggests that the Court might intervene in the case before the trial begins.
While the Biden administration has demonstrated a commitment to addressing climate change through clean energy initiatives, it is also facing criticism for not taking the Juliana case more seriously, given the potential threat of a warming planet to the future of young people..