Oregon’s Highest Court Will Review State Youth Climate Lawsuit

May 24, 2019

The Oregon Supreme Court has agreed to review a climate lawsuit against the state that was originally filed by two teens in Lane County Circuit court in 2011. 

Kelsey Juliana and Olivia Chernaik originally filed the lawsuit in 2011 in Lane County Circuit Court in Eugene.
Credit Robin Loznak / Our Children's Trust

Kelsey Juliana and Olivia Chernaik were 15 and 10 years old when they filed their suit.  The State Appeals Court this January ruled that the public trust doctrine, on which the case is based, does not require the state to protect natural resources from climate change. But, attorney Courtney Johnson, who represents the plaintiffs, says Oregon’s highest Court will review that decision.

“It has the potential to be ground-breaking in that the court could say that this ancient doctrine of the public trust should be modernized to apply to this modern problem of climate change.”

The state lawsuit is one of several youth-led cases in progress. There is also the federal climate lawsuit, Juliana versus U.S.. It’s set to be heard by a panel of the 9th circuit court of appeals next month in Portland. 

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