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Appeals Court Hears Climate Suit

Rachael McDonald

Two young Eugene women had their day in court  Thursday in a lawsuit asking the state of Oregon to do more to prevent climate change.  A three judge panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals heard arguments at the University of Oregon Law School in Eugene.

The case asks the state to do more to address global warming under what’s known as the public trust doctrine. Portland attorney Tanya Sanirib argued the state holds natural resources in trust for the next generation and if water, air and land are not preserved that’s a breach of public trust. After the hearing, one of the plaintiffs, high school senior Kelsey Juliana, spoke with reporters.

Juliana: “Climate change is affecting every social and environmental justice right, I believe. So it’s not only the pressing issue of our time but it’s the crisis that is affecting this generation as well as every future generation down the line.”

The plaintiffs are appealing a Lane County Circuit Court Judge’s dismissal of the case on the basis that the public trust doctrine was outside the purview of the courts. The plaintiffs are hoping a recent ruling in Pennsylvania that had to do with public trust will help the Court of Appeals decide in their favor.
There are similar climate change cases in progress in all 50 states. A decision isn’t expected for several months.

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