Establishing the legal right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate
for all present and future generations

Massachusetts

Meet one of Massachusetts's youth plaintiffs, Eshe Shirley, an 18-year old French horn playing, basketball playing, systems thinker that just started her freshman year at Yale so she can continue to learn how to solve complex problems with comprehensive and feasible solutions. TRUST Massachusetts is the 9th film in the award-winning 10-part documentary series Stories of TRUST: Calling for Climate Recovery.

Legal Updates

August 11, 2014:

With the support of the legal team at OUR CHILDREN’S TRUST, four youth plaintiffs from Massachusetts, Conservation Law Foundation, and Mass Energy Consumers Alliance filed a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Their complaint argues that the DEP has failed to enact regulations required by the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act that would establish declining annual levels of greenhouse gas emissions. The four youth plaintiffs that are part of this lawsuit are taking action to protect their right and the right of their peers to a healthy atmosphere and a stable climate. Check out their complaint here.

With the support of Our Children's Trust and Youth Climate Action Network, some of the youth plaintiffs had previously petitioned DEP to promulgate regulations for carbon emission reductions. This is the next step in their efforts to protect their State and future generations from climate disruption.

June 24, 2013:

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection issued a decision denying Boston students’ climate change rulemaking petition. While this decision is disappointing for the students and the rest of the youth fighting for a healthy future in the state of Massachusetts, the decision includes many positive aspects that lay the foundation for future efforts by Massachusetts youth.

June 13, 2013:

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection held a public hearing on Boston students’ climate change rulemaking petition. A letter signed by 15 Massachusetts organizations was submitted in support of the youth. Thirteen youth petitioners testified and were joined by numerous law students, professors, and local activists who submitted public testimony.

June 10, 2013:

Thursday, June 13th, 3:00 – 4:30 pm Eastern Standard Time
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection will hold public meeting on Boston students’ climate change petition for rulemaking. Students and leading environmental advocates will be available to speak with members of the press after the meeting.

On November 1st, 2012, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, a group of Boston-area students handdelivered their climate change petition for rulemaking to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Several hundred students from Boston high schools as well as Boston College Law School filed the petition in an attempt to get the State to protect Massachusetts’ climate system and shorelines by adequately protecting the atmosphere, a public trust resource upon which all Massachusetts residents rely for their health and safety. Zyg Plater, nationally renowned environmental lawyer and Boston College Law Professor, works closely with the students and has helped coordinated their legal action in Massachusetts.
The petition acknowledges that Massachusetts is a national leader in taking the initiative to reduce greenhouse emissions, but urges further steps be taken to constrain greenhouse gas emissions, requesting that the Massachusetts DEP declare a rule that would require the Department to take the following steps:
• Prepare and implement a plan to ensure that, starting in 2013, statewide fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by 6% per year, which is what is necessary to achieve 350 ppm by the next century according to the best available science;
• Publish annual progress reports on statewide greenhouse gas emissions on the Department’s website for public review;
• Consider ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 25% by 2020; and
• Adopt any necessary policies or regulations to implement the greenhouse gas constraints. The meeting will allow the students and the greater public to submit public testimony to the Department on the proposed rule.
The Boston students’ petition formally requesting the specific state regulationsis part of one of the most remarkable legal strategies on climate crisis to date. The strategy was launched on May 4, 2011 as part of the TRUST Campaign, in which youth filed legal actions in 49 states and against the federal government. The filing of the Massachusetts petition is the most recent legal action filed in the Campaign. TRUST Massachusetts, the ninth film in the series, Stories of TRUST: Calling for Climate Recovery, tells the story of the lead Massachusetts petitioner and the ways in which she’s tackling climate change in her state.

November 1, 2012:

A group of Boston-area students hand-delivered their climate change Petition for Rulemaking to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection today. The students filed the petition in an attempt to get the State to protect Massachusetts's climate system and shorelines by adequately protecting the atmosphere, a public trust resource upon which all Massachusetts residents rely for their health and safety.

The students had planned to deliver the Petition on Monday, but were delayed by Hurricane Sandy, which shut down Boston schools and government offices. The hurricane is one of the largest storms to ever hit the East Coast. Massachusetts was hit with heavy winds that toppled trees and power lines, causing close to 385,000 residents to lose power. Shorelines were pounded by high seas, forcing evacuations in low-lying areas.

Follow this link to read the full press release.

October 31, 2012:

Students from Boston Latin High School and Boston College School of Law will hand-deliver their Petition for Rulemaking to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection asking the department to adopt a rule that will require the state to prepare plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 6% annually to meet the statutory targets in the Massachusetts’ Global Warming Solutions Act. Right before this important election, the TRUST youth—many of whom cannot vote—are calling on their leaders and adult voters to be, in Eshe Sherley’s words, “upstanders, not bystanders” on climate crisis.

Check out the Petition for Rulemaking.