Kids in climate lawsuit ask to block fossil fuel production on federal land

A group of kids and young adults suing the federal government over climate change is asking a court to block various approvals for fossil fuel development on federal land and offshore.

The nearly two dozen plaintiffs in the case Juliana v. United States made their extraordinary motion in a filing late Thursday in the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

They’re asking the court to immediately block the federal government from approving any coal mining on federal land, oil or natural gas drilling offshore or fossil fuel infrastructure like pipelines that need federal approval.

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The litigants, who are suing to force the government to take stronger action on climate change, say fossil fuel development threatens their futures.

“The evidence shows that these systemic activities must be enjoined immediately to preserve plaintiffs’ ability to obtain a remedy in this case that redresses their injuries and protects the public interest,” attorneys for the youths told the court.

“The record shows that, for decades, defendants have knowingly and affirmatively placed plaintiffs in peril of present and worsening climate change-induced harms, with shocking, deliberate indifference to the known and obvious dangers in advancing a fossil fuel-based energy system.”

They’re seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the fossil fuel activities while the case proceeds.

The attorneys cited research showing that fossil fuels produced on federal land, which is overseen by the Interior Department, resulted in 1.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2014, or 23 percent of the nation’s emissions, and production has increased significantly since then.

While the case was filed in 2015, the substantial claims haven’t moved forward much, since the federal government has repeatedly asked higher courts, including the Supreme Court, to stop the case. The Supreme Court has twice refused to do so.