The 21 youth plaintiffs in the landmark Juliana v. United States are asking a judge for a temporary injunction against new fossil fuel leases or development until their case, which has been subject to multiple delays by the Trump administration, can be settled.
“At a minimum, this injunction would apply to the approximately 100 new fossil fuel infrastructure projects poised for federal permits, including pipelines, export facilities, and coal and liquefied natural gas terminals,” stated the motion, filed Thursday with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The youth filed the motion after the Ninth Circuit granted the Trump administration’s request for a rare interlocutory appeal that would allow for review of the case before it goes to trial—and hold up the trial in the process. The court agreed to the request in December and gave Juliana lawyers at Our Children’s Trust until February 22 to respond.
“The young plaintiffs asked the court to issue the injunction before March 20, when the government will offer about 78 million acres of unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico,” Climate Liability News reports. “The motion mentions 60 new oil and gas pipelines, 32 new liquefied natural gas and coal terminals, and one new deepwater port oil export facility awaiting federal approval among the projects the government is expected to approve. That infrastructure would lock in more use of fossil fuels, contributing to an increase in CO2 pollution, causing even more climate change.”
CLN says the motion is backed by statements from “a host of international experts, including economists, scientists, and armed forces officials” who’ve been lending their expertise to Juliana at no cost.
“An injunction on future leases and mining permits for extracting coal on federal public lands and on future leases for offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction activities, alongside enjoining new fossil fuel infrastructure requiring federal approval will prevent, not cause, economic harm,” said Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.
“Defendants control and dictate the U.S. national energy policy in a myriad of ways,” he added. “For example, they provide billions of dollars annually in direct and indirect subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. The economic impacts of these actions are deleterious to Youth Plaintiffs and the Nation as a whole.”
Retired U.S. vice-admiral Lee Gunn, a former navy inspector general, called climate change a “threat multiplier”, a “catalyst for conflict”, and “the most serious national security threat facing our Nation today.”
“I have asthma,” added Nick Venner, a 17-year-old plaintiff from Colorado. “The wildfire smoke makes it impossible for me to exercise, and sometimes I can’t even go outside at all on particularly poor air quality days. I want to emphasize the urgent nature of what we face and what this case is about. It’s irreversible!”
“It is up to the courts to preserve plaintiffs’ rights, and minimize further irreparable harm to these young people, during the pendency of this interlocutory appeal,” said Julia Olson, Our Children’s Trust executive director and chief legal counsel.