Children in California are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. STF leaders, Maya W. (above) and Dani R. are plaintiffs in the case. Photo by Our Children’s Trust
Editor’s Note: Read STF leaders Maya W. and Dani R.’s statements in the full complaint.
December 11, 2023, NPR: Eighteen California children are suing the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming it violated their constitutional rights by failing to protect them from the effects of climate change.
The federal lawsuit is called Genesis B. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency. According to the lawsuit, the lead plaintiff “Genesis B.” is a 17-year-old Long Beach, California resident whose parents can’t afford air conditioning as the number of extreme heat days increases.
The other plaintiffs range in age from 8 to 17. For each plaintiff, the lawsuit mentions ways that climate change is affecting their lives now, such as wildfires and flooding that have damaged landscapes near them and forced them to evacuate their homes or cancel activities.
“Time is slipping away, and the impact of the climate crisis is already hitting us directly. We are running from wildfires, being displaced by floods, panicking in hot classrooms during another heat wave,” 15-year-old plaintiff Noah said.
The California federal case claims the EPA violated the children’s constitutional rights by allowing carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels to warm the climate. It notes the agency’s 2009 finding that carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is a public health threat, and children are the most vulnerable.
“There is one federal agency explicitly tasked with keeping the air clean and controlling pollution to protect the health of every child and the welfare of a nation—the EPA,” said Julia Olson, chief legal counsel for Our Children’s Trust in the statement. “The agency has done the opposite when it comes to climate pollution, and it’s time the EPA is held accountable by our courts for violating the U.S. Constitution.”…
Several of the kids suing the EPA alleging it has harmed children’s health and welfare over decades watch as the lawsuit is filed on December 10. Photo by Our Children’s Trust