WHAT: Two Eugene youths’ climate change case, Chernaik v. Brown, will be argued before Judge Karsten Rasmussen and in front of national news media at Lane County Circuit Court. Oregonians from across the state are coming to support these young women in their fight for state action on climate change. Supporters will also be participating in a special climate change tribunal and silent vigil, organized by the 350 Eugene chapter, outside the courthouse.
WHEN: Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Court hearing begins at 2:30 p.m. PST
WHERE: Lane County Circuit Court
125 East 8th Avenue, Eugene, Oregon 97401
WHY: Kelsey and Olivia brought their case against Gov. Kitzhaber (now Gov. Brown) and the state of Oregon because the state, by its own admission, is failing to meet its carbon
emission reduction goals and is not acting to protect Oregon’s public trust resources and the futures of these young Oregonians. The youths ask the court for a declaration of law
that the state has a fiduciary obligation to manage the atmosphere, water resources, coastal areas, wildlife and fish as public trust assets and to protect them from substantial
impairment resulting from the emissions of greenhouse gases in Oregon and the resulting adverse effects of climate change and ocean acidification. In its initial motion in the case filed in January, the state renounced any obligation to protect these public resources, arguing that the public trust doctrine only prevents the state from selling off submerged lands to private interests. Kelsey and Olivia’s lawyers say that the governor is flat wrong in her defense of the case.
Last summer, in a nationally significant decision in their case, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled the circuit court must decide whether the atmosphere is a public trust
resource that the state of Oregon has a duty to protect. Kelsey and Olivia were initially told by Judge Rasmussen that they could not bring the case, but the Court of Appeals
overturned that decision, and Kelsey and Olivia will have their case heard in Lane County Circuit Court once again.
Kelsey and Olivia are represented by Crag Law Center, Liam Sherlock at Hutchinson, Cox, Coons, Orr & Sherlock, P.C. and the Western Environmental Law Center. Kelsey and Olivia’s lawsuit was filed with the help of Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon-based nonprofit orchestrating a global game-changing, youth-driven legal campaign to establish the right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate. The legal effort advances the fundamental duty of government today: to address the climate crisis based on scientific baselines and benchmarks, and to do so within timeframes determined by scientific analysis.
Short documentary films of Kelsey and other young people taking legal action can be seen at www.ourchildrenstrust.org/trust-films.
Our Children’s Trust is a nonprofit organization advocating for urgent emissions reductions on behalf of youth and future generations, who have the most to lose if emissions are not reduced. OCT is spearheading the international human rights and environmental TRUST Campaign to compel governments to safeguard the atmosphere as a “public trust” resource. We use law, film, and media to elevate their compelling voices. Our ultimate goal is for governments to adopt and implement enforceable science-based Climate Recovery Plans with annual emissions reductions to return to an atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration of 350 ppm. www.ourchildrenstrust.org