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In Juliana vs. United States, a case scheduled to go to federal trial in October, 21 young plaintiffs charge that in failing to act strongly enough on climate change, the federal government is denying them a stable climate. This, the case argues, violates their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.
“It is the first case to recognize in federal court something like an environmental right, a right to a clean environment,” says Burger. A Kennedy-like interpretation of these arguments and the law could have accepted these newly-articulated rights. The retiring justice “did have an understanding of some of the scientific principles underlying climate law and environmental protection,” Burger continues, “he just never struck me as the cutting edge of environmental thinking.”
Nuisance - Lawsuits - County - City - State
As for several nuisance lawsuits in which county, city, and state governments across the country are suing fossil-fuel corporations for destabilizing the climate, Burger again foresees little impact from Kennedy’s departure if the arguments reach the Supreme Court.
In these cases, governments have accused oil, gas, and coal companies of knowingly selling products that caused climate change and duping the public about their impacts—much in the same way tobacco firms knew that smoking caused cancer and other illnesses, but told the public otherwise. The localities want the firms to help cover the billions of dollars in expected costs for responding to the impacts, from...
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