Attorneys for the plaintiffs in a federal climate lawsuit yesterday named President Trump as a defendant in the case.
In 2015, a group of kids, young adults and environmentalists sued the U.S. government and top officials — including President Obama — for failing to protect them from the dangers of climate change, despite detailed warnings and research of its risks.
Julia Olson, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said other Cabinet members will soon be named as defendants, replacing leaders from the Obama era with Trump administration officials. The plaintiffs are moving to begin trial in the fall, though the government may appeal to get the case dismissed, according to their attorneys.
The group sued Obama and Cabinet secretaries for the Energy, Transportation, Commerce, Defense, State, Agriculture and Interior departments at the start of the case.
"The policies of the U.S. government that ignore the threat of climate change are only going to get worse under the new presidency, based on Trump's apparent lack of understanding of climate science and his plans to invest further in the fossil fuel industry," Kiran Oommen, 20, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said in a statement.
Requests for comment from the White House were not returned.
Old documents and files, as well as industry ties between new government officials and their old business associates, are shaping up as critical to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs have said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp. until December and had connections for years to the American Petroleum Institute (API), is key to their case and should be deposed.
The Department of Justice is fighting that deposition (Climatewire, Jan. 30).
Three industry groups — API, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers — sued to block the case in 2015. That move may expose the trade associations, and officials and companies associated with them, to discovery.
Olson and her colleagues are also worried that the Trump administration, which swiftly pulled down environmental information and climate change data from federal websites, will destroy government records.
In late January, they wrote to federal agencies requesting they retain all documents pertinent to the case (Climatewire, Jan. 26).
Catherine McCabe, acting head of U.S. EPA, said Monday that documents and records wouldn't be destroyed.
The case is Juliana et al v. United States of America et al and is before the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from E&E News. E&E provides daily coverage of essential energy and environmental news at www.eenews.net.