pcloudy.png
Sunday July 12th, 2020 3:51PM

Alaska Supreme Court hears youth climate change lawsuit

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska law promoting fossil fuel development infringes on the constitutional rights of young residents to a healthy environment, a lawyer told Alaska Supreme Court justices on Wednesday.

A lawsuit filed by 16 Alaska youths claimed long-term effects of climate change will devastate the country's northernmost state and interfere with their constitutional rights to life, liberty and public trust resources that sustain them.

The state's legislative and executive branches have not taken steps to lower greenhouse gas emissions and adopted a policy that promotes putting more in the air, said attorney Andrew Welle of the Oregon-based Our Children's Trust group.

"This is an issue that is squarely within the court's authority," Welle said.

Assistant Attorney General Anna Jay urged justices to affirm a lower court ruling rejecting the claims. Ultimately, the climate change issues raised by Alaska youth must be addressed by the political branches of government, she said.

"The court does not have the tools to engage in the type of legislative policy making endeavor required to formulate a broad state approach to greenhouse gas emissions," she said.

The 16 youths sued in 2017 and claimed damages by greenhouse gas emissions are causing widespread damage in Alaska. The lawsuit said the state has experienced dangerously high temperatures, changed rain and snow patterns, rising seas, storm surge flooding, thawed permafrost, coastal erosion, violent storms and increased wildfires.

Our Children's Trust is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting natural systems for present and future generations. The group in 2011 unsuccessfully sued the state in 2011, claiming the state failed to adopt measures to protect young people from climate change.

The judge in that case concluded that courts lack scientific, economic and technological resources that agencies can use to determine climate policy and it was best left in their hands.

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Gregory Miller rejected the current case a years ago.

Alaska has no state sales or income tax and historically has relied on the petroleum industry, which extracts crude oil and sends most of it to West Coast Refineries, for much of its revenue.

Welle said state policy promoting fossil fuels, expressed in a state statute, should be declared unconstitutional because it harms young Alaskans by trading short-term financial gains for long-term health problems.

The lead client in the case, Esau Sinnok, has had his constitutional right to health and happiness denied by state policy and lack of action on climate change, Welle said.

"His home village of Shishmaref is literally wiped off the map because of climate change," Welle said before the hearing. "It's endangering his culture, the very existence of his community, the health and safety of him and his community members."

Justice Peter Maassen asked Welle if the energy policy was balanced by other policies in state law, such as protection for natural resources and the environment.

"How can we conclude that government agencies are following the energy policy blindly without consideration of these other policies?" Maassen asked.

Welle said that while statutes provide authority to protect the environment, state agencies have been directed to systemically promote fossil fuels.

Justice Susan Carney called Welle's attention to a newspaper opinion piece by former Gov. Bill Walker in which he acknowledged severe economic effects of climate change.

"Isn't that a sign that state policy has balanced those concerns?" she asked.

Welle replied that the court when assessing state policies, and their effects on fundamental constitutional rights, can assess the process, look at decisions and decide if balance struck is the most narrowly tailored choice.

___

This story has been corrected to say that 16 Alaska youths in 2017 sued the state.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Health, AP Business, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Lights out: Power cut in California to prevent deadly fires
California's biggest utility cut power to more than a million people Wednesday for what could be days on end in the most sweeping effort in state history to prevent wildfires caused by windblown power lines
8:53PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Alaska Supreme Court hears youth climate change lawsuit
Attorneys for 16 young Alaskans who sued over state climate change policy have argued their case before Alaska Supreme Court justices
8:52PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Alaska Supreme Court to hear youths' climate change lawsuit
Attorneys for 16 young Alaskans who sued over state climate change policy are expected to argue their case before Alaska Supreme Court justices on Wednesday
8:41PM ( 21 minutes ago )
U.S. News
Melania Trump listens as teens share experiences with vaping
Melania Trump says she's glad to see some stores pulling e-cigarettes off shelves
8:45PM ( 17 minutes ago )
'Welcome to Minneapolis': Trump rally roils liberal bastion
President Donald Trump is headed to the liberal stronghold of Minneapolis for his first reelection rally since impeachment talk heated up
8:43PM ( 19 minutes ago )
The Latest: Americans in German synagogue as gunman hit door
The U.S. ambassador to Germany says 10 Americans were inside the synagogue in the eastern city of Halle that a gunman unsuccessfully tried to enter on Yom Kippur
8:37PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Trump signs executive orders focused on agency guidance
President Donald Trump has signed two executive orders designed to improve transparency when government agencies enforce guidance on how best to comply with a particular law or regulation
7:38PM ( 1 hour ago )
Bipartisan Senate bill would halt arms sales to Turkey
A bipartisan Senate bill would halt U.S. military assistance to Turkey because of its invasion of northern Syria.
7:33PM ( 1 hour ago )
Closely watched GOP senator calls impeachment a 'mistake'
A retiring Republican senator who's being closely watched for his view on President Donald Trump's potential impeachment has strengthened his stance against it
7:27PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Florida congressman turns Trump support into recognition
Long before Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz was calling the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee "Captain Kangaroo," he built a reputation as an agitator who wasn't shy about calling out other lawmakers on social media
5:54PM ( 3 hours ago )
Bipartisan Senate bill could block military sales to Turkey
A sponsor of an emerging bipartisan Senate bill that would punish Turkey for its invasion of northern Syria says the measure may immediately block U.S. arms sales to Turkey
4:42PM ( 4 hours ago )
Facebook CEO to appear before Congress on currency plan
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will appear before Congress this month as the tech giant is under pressure from lawmakers and regulators over its massive market power and record of privacy breaches.
2:06PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Ecuador's protesters march; clashes break out in Quito
Thousands of protesters have staged anti-government rallies in Ecuador, seeking to intensify pressure on the president after a week of unrest sparked by fuel price hikes
7:33PM ( 1 hour ago )
NBA postpones media sessions in Shanghai amid China rift
NBA postpones Wednesday's scheduled media sessions in Shanghai for the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers
6:27PM ( 2 hours ago )
Nobel prize honors breakthroughs on lithium-ion batteries
Three scientists win Nobel Prize in chemistry for their contributions to lithium-ion batteries
6:23PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
The Latest: Strong winds expected amid power outage
Forecasters say strong winds are buffeting high elevations in the mountains north of San Francisco and expected to reach lower elevations as California undergoes a power outage to prevents winds from knocking down power lines and stating fires
4:31PM ( 4 hours ago )
Fed officials were sharply divided over September rate cut
Minutes show Fed officials sharply divided over September rate cut, leaving future path unclear
4:27PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: California hardware store helps people in dark
At a home improvement store in California, employees with flashlights took customers into the darkened store to buy batteries and other items needed to get through a widespread power blackout to help prevent wildfires
3:37PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
The Latest: Bay Area tunnels open during imposed blackout
The California Transportation Department says two tunnels in the San Francisco Bay Area that depend on electricity to function will remain open during a power outage affecting a large swath of Northern California
10:32AM ( 10 hours ago )
The Latest: Power outages begin in California
Pacific Gas and Electric has shut off power to more than half a million customers in Northern California in the biggest planned shut off in the state's history
9:34AM ( 11 hours ago )
The Latest: Winner calls lithium-ion batteries indispensable
Nobel chemistry prize winner Akira Yoshino said lithium-ion batteries are indispensable for creating a low-carbon society powered by renewable energies so the world can reduce its carbon emissions
9:32AM ( 11 hours ago )
AP Business - Utilities
Lights out: Power cut in California to prevent deadly fires
California's biggest utility cut power to more than a million people Wednesday for what could be days on end in the most sweeping effort in state history to prevent wildfires caused by windblown power lines
8:53PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Alaska Supreme Court to hear youths' climate change lawsuit
Attorneys for 16 young Alaskans who sued over state climate change policy are expected to argue their case before Alaska Supreme Court justices on Wednesday
8:41PM ( 22 minutes ago )
California bans pesticide linked to brain damage in children
California environmental officials say a popular agricultural pesticide they say has been linked to brain damage in children will be banned after next year under an agreement reached with its manufacturer
8:38PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Politician charged in human trafficking adoption scheme
Court records show the assessor of Arizona's most populous county has been accused of human smuggling in an adoption fraud scheme that brought pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to the U.S. to give up their children for adoption
8:26PM ( 37 minutes ago )
Officials find more fetal remains connected to late doctor
Authorities say additional fetal remains have been found in Illinois stashed inside a car that belonged to a late doctor who performed abortions in Indiana
7:34PM ( 1 hour ago )