Oregon Appeals Court Sends Climate Suit Back to Lane County Judge

Jun 11, 2014

A lawsuit brought by two Eugene teens against the state over climate change will get a second hearing in Lane County Circuit Court. The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday the case has merit.

Attorneys for Kelsey Juliana and Olivia Chernaik argue that the Public Trust Doctrine requires the state to do more to curtail climate change. Lane County Circuit Judge Karsten Rasmussen dismissed it nearly 2 years ago, saying his court didn’t have jurisdiction to resolve the question.

Chris Winter with the Crag Law Center in Portland represented the teens. He said the Court of Appeals ruling gives the girls their day in court.

"That they're entitled to a declaration of whether the atmosphere and other trust resources must be protected by the legislature and by the executive and that they're entitled to a declaration of their rights under the law," Winter said.

"This is excellent news for me. I'm thrilled," said Juliana. "This morning when we found out, me and my mom looked at each other and we just sort of started crying tears of joy because this is what we've been waiting for."

Juliana said Oregon is now a leader in the fight for "climate justice." The organization "Our Childrens Trust" is coordinating similar lawsuits in other states.

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