“Sounding the alarm,” a new youth lawsuit seeks climate action by EPA

By Dana Drugmand

US environmental regulators have allowed “dangerous levels of climate pollution” to destabilize the climate system with horrific impacts that will worsen over time, according to allegations laid out in a federal lawsuit filed Sunday by a group of California youth.

“We are running from wildfires, being displaced by floods, panicking in hot classrooms during another heat wave,” 15-year-old plaintiff Noah C. said in a statement. He is one of 18 young people named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed in US District Court for the Central District of California. (The last names of the plaintiffs are abbreviated due to their ages.) “We feel a constant worry about the future, and all around us no one is moving fast enough.”

EPA Administrator Michael Regan and the US federal government are also named as defendants in the case.

The lawsuit charges the government with knowingly endangering the lives and welfare of the nation’s youth by permitting unsafe levels of greenhouse gas emissions tied to the burning of fossil fuels, in violation of the US Constitution’s rights to life, equal protection, and due process. Additionally, the case contends that EPA has acted beyond its constitutionally delegated authority in allowing extensive climate pollution that harms human health and welfare.

The climate crisis is “government-imposed and sanctioned,” the lawsuit states. “Climate crisis is the single greatest driver of the health of every child born today,” according to the lawsuit.