Why North Carolina judge rejects 13-year-old’s climate change lawsuit

30 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

NC teen loses case over climate change, vows to keep fighting.

On Wednesday, a county judge ruled against her petition for stricter emissions standards in a state reluctant to adopt more stringent limits proposed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. “It’s an issue that I’m always going to continue trying to make a difference in,” Hallie said during a phone interview. “There’s lots of next steps that can be taken.” Hallie, an eighth-grader at Ligon Middle School who has been marching and rallying against global warming since the 4th grade, is one of a number of teens taking their states and politicians to court over climate change.

Previously, North Carolina’s Environmental Management Commission had ruled that the petition was incomplete and that state law prohibits North Carolina from creating environmental laws stricter than the federal government’s, a decision Hallie challenged with a lawsuit. The News source & Observer of Raleigh reports Hallie Turner discovered Wed. in that Wake County Superior Courtroom Judge Mike Morgan rejected her effort to overturn a choice by the state Environmental Administration Commission.

Looking ahead, the undeterred 13-year-old encouraged supporters to join her at a December 17 hearing in Raleigh as she maps a path forward alongside her pro-bono legal team. “Climate change is too urgent for any of us to sit quietly while the state fails to take significant action,” she said, according to the News & Observer’s Anne Blythe. The eighth-grader had petitioned the commission, in search of a rule requiring North Carolina to scale back its carbon dioxide emissions by at the least four % yearly. Since reading “An Inconvenient Truth” by Al Gore at age 9, Hallie has been taking action on environmental issues, from riding her bike instead of asking her parents for a ride to joining the council of her state’s iMatter Youth, a national organization for teens fighting climate change.

The petition, which she compiled with the help of local attorney Gayle Goldsmith Tuch and lawyers from environmental nonprofit Our Children’s Trust and Duke University, was rejected by Commissioner Benne Hutson. The commissioners never got to the crux of her request, which included scientific data and more to support her theory for why the state should curb greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this month, the commission adopted a proposal from the state Department of Environmental Quality that is much less stringent than what was suggested by Hallie and the attorneys who helped her draft her petition. In addition to state-based pushback, 21 teens have sued the federal government, “alleging that approval of fossil fuel development has violated the fundamental right of citizens to be free from government actions that harm life, liberty and property,” according to CBS.

Many researchers anticipated that today’s young “Millennials,” born roughly between 1980 and the early 2000s, would lead the grassroots charge to fight global warming. Yet Pew surveys in 2014 found that 60 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds believed global warming was caused by humans, compared to 31 percent of those over age 65, and that the youngest set was most likely to support environmental measures such as strict standards on emissions and offshore drilling. Hallie said the judicial process has been educational. “It’s connected to so many things that I’ve been learning at school in social studies,” she said. Whatever today’s teens wind up being called – names like the iGeneration, Generation Z, and even the Selfie Generation are all in the running – they may have a considerable impact on energy policy. But will it be greater than that of Millennials? “I’m going to keep fighting for this issue for as long as it’s relevant, until we don’t have to worry about this,” Hallie Turner told Al Jazeera.

The adults who have been beside her are mentors and supporters, but the impetus is her own, she said. “The comments don’t really bother me,” she said.

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