Energy and Environment Monitor
District Court Pauses Kids' Climate Suit for Interlocutory Appeal
November 29, 2018
By: Chris M. Hunter
On November 21, 2018, the United States District Court for the District of Oregon stayed a climate change suit in order to allow for an interlocutory appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. An interlocutory appeal is an appeal of a specific ruling by a trial court that is made before the trial itself has actually concluded. The District Court’s order concerns a suit filed against the President and various executive agencies, which was brought by 21 minors, an organization known as Earth Guardians, and “future generations” by and through a self-appointed guardian. The suit alleges that the government’s policies related to fossil fuels and climate changes are violating the constitutional rights of the named plaintiffs as well as future generations.
We have previously written about this suit on October 30, 2018 and November 14, 2018. The plaintiffs allege that the “affirmative aggregate acts” of the government over the past 50 years in the area of fossil fuel production and energy regulation has caused a “dangerous climate system,” which amounts to a systematic violation of various constitutional rights. The suit asks the district court to address the alleged violations of their due process rights by ordering the President and various federal agencies to prepare and implement a national remedial plan designed to address climate change.
The federal defendants moved to dismiss the suit numerous times, arguing that the suit is an attempt to have a single federal district court dictate environmental and energy policies for the entire country. The District Court had previously denied the Government’s motion for dismissal and, later, its motion for interlocutory appeal of the order denying dismissal. However, in a November 9th Order staying the proceedings, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently urged the District Court to promptly resolve the Government’s pending motion to reconsider the denial for interlocutory appeal of the District Court’s 2016 refusal to dismiss the suit.
In a six-page order, the District Court stated that the decision to certify the interlocutory appeal was not a decision made lightly. Ultimately, however, the District Court issued a stay of the case in order to allow the refusal to dismiss the suit to be fully reviewed by the Ninth Circuit.