April 03, 2019

Climate Change Litigation as a Model for Addressing Waste Pollution: Juliana v. United States

John K. Powell

Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana, et al. v. United States, et al.(hereinafter Juliana) is not your ordinary lawsuit. In August 2015, a group of 21 young environmental activists, nonprofit organization Earth Guardians, and nonprofit organization Future Generations through their Guardian Dr. James Hansen, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon against the United States, then President Barack Obama, and numerous federal agencies including but not limited to the U.S. Departments of Energy, Transportation, and Interior, as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) whose core mission is to protect human health and the environment. The first and one of the oldest named plaintiffs, Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana, a 19-year-old resident of Oregon, is also not your typical teenager, once walking 1,600 miles from Nebraska to Washington, D.C., in the “Great March for Climate Action.” The youngest plaintiff, just eight years old at the time of filing, is a resident of Florida concerned about abnormal temperatures, rainfall, and impacts to the area’s marine ecosystem. All of these youth plaintiffs will range in age from 43 to 55 by the year 2050, often cited as a potentially ominous benchmark year for climate change impacts.

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