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18 young people sue government agency for 'intentionally' violating their constitutional rights: 'At no time in our nation's history …'

The suit is part of a growing trend.

The suit is part of a growing trend.

Photo Credit: iStock

Climate pollution is an ever-growing crisis, and while there are many individual steps that we can take to reduce our personal impact, little can be done to address the underlying causes of this crisis without convincing the powers that be to take it seriously.

To that end, a group of 18 California residents between the ages of eight and 17 have sued the Environmental Protection Agency for allowing dangerous levels of planet-overheating gas to be released.

The lawsuit states that the EPA is "intentionally" violating their constitutional rights to equal protection, due process, and others by letting businesses release heat-trapping gases — such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide — in large enough amounts that our planet is continually overheating.

"At no time in our nation's history has Congress delegated authority to any governmental agency to allow levels of pollution that are harmful to children," the lawsuit said, per Reuters. "Yet that is what EPA has done."

The suit is part of a growing trend of groups of young people suing their governments in a desperate attempt to force them to reckon with the existential threat posed by planet-overheating gas emissions.

These lawsuits, also known as "climate trials," have been filed by groups of young people in Montana and Hawaii, as well as in Austria, Peru, Germany, and Portugal.

According to Reuters, an EPA spokesperson declined to comment on the most recent suit but said that the current presidential administration is committed to addressing the climate crisis "in a variety of ways," including with regulatory actions.

However, the facts tell a different story, as the Biden administration has done little to stop the world's most egregious polluters from continuing to pollute. The U.S. is currently expected to allow oil and gas companies to continue ramping up production for the next two decades despite its purported interest in developing renewable alternatives such as wind and solar.

The "climate trials" are already proving more effective than one might expect — the Montana suit, which was the first of its kind to go to trial, already yielded a big victory as a state judge ruled that Montana had indeed violated a state constitutional provision that requires it to protect the environment by permitting coal extraction and pipelines.

As the climate crisis worsens and the people in power attempt to maintain the status quo, young people who have taken up the mantle of fighting for our planet have had to come up with increasingly creative ways of doing so — and they are proving that they are up for the challenge.

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