A federal appeals court on Friday dismissed a lawsuit by 21 young people who claimed the U.S. government's climate policies and reliance on fossil fuels harms them, jeopardizes their future and violates their constitutional rights, potentially bringing an end to a long-running legal battle that activists saw as an important front in the war against environmental degradation.
The Oregon-based youth advocacy group Our Children's Trust filed the lawsuit in 2015 in Eugene on behalf of the youngsters. It sought an injunction ordering the government to implement a plan to phase out fossil fuel emissions and draw down atmospheric carbon dioxide emission. The case had bounced around the federal courts for five years and multiple trial dates were canceled.
The 2-1 vote for dismissal was a major blow for the climate activists, who have filed numerous similar cases in state and federal courts and currently have nine cases pending in state courts from Alaska to New Mexico.
It wasn't immediately clear if any further legal avenues were open to the plaintiffs and their attorneys. Our Children's Trust and Earth Guardians did not immediately respond to telephone messages seeking comment.
Erin Barnhart, a spokeswoman for Children's Trust, said in an email that the group would release a statement later Friday.