May 17, 2016:
Youth Climate Advocates Secure Victory in Massachusetts Climate Change Lawsuit
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rejects DEP’s arguments, finds that existing schemes “fall short”, and orders annual reductions in greenhouse gases
Today, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found in favor of four youth plaintiffs, all supported by Our Children's Trust, the Conservation Law Foundation, and Mass Energy Consumers Alliance, in the critical climate change case, Kain et al. v. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. The Court found that the DEP was not complying with its legal obligation to reduce the State’s GHG emissions and ordered the agency to “promulgate regulations that address multiple sources or categories of sources of greenhouse gas emissions, impose a limit on emissions that may be released . . . and set limits that decline on an annual basis.”
January 8, 2016:
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard oral arguments in the youth's climate case against the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for failing to promulgate regulations to reduce the State's greenhouse gas emissions. The oral argument is archived and can be watched by clicking the image below. A decision in the case is expected sometime this spring.
Shown below are two of the Massachusetts youth plaintiffs, Shamus Miller and Olivia Gieger, accompanied by their lawyers, Phelps Turner, Jennifer Rushlow, and Dylan Sanders, after the hearing.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the highest court in Massachusetts, decided to take the case on direct review, skipping the intermediary court of appeals. Right now, the youths' case is before the Massachusetts Supreme Court and that court will have a hearing sometime later this fall or in 2016. We will update this page when we learn of the hearing information.
March 24, 2015:
Youth Plaintiffs have filed their notice of appeal of the March 24 decision of Massachusetts Superior Court in their case against the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The Court deferred to the DEP’s interpretation of the Global Warming Solutions Act and ruled that no further regulations were required by law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Judge noted that the regulatory measures implemented by the DEP may not be effective in adequately reducing greenhouse gas emissions but gave the DEP significant deference as to what type of regulations it implemented to reduce emissions.
The Youth Plaintiffs were disappointed by this decision but are appealing the decision to compel the DEP to follow the law and ensure that their right to clean air, a constitutionally protected resource, is safeguarded. The Youth Plaintiffs have filed their notice of appeal and trust that the appellate court will make the correct decision to protect their right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate.
December 17, 2014:
November 6, 2014:
Plaintiffs filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings.
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.
Read the blog post one of the young plaintiffs, Olivia Gieger wrote about why she is taking climate action in Massachusetts.
And meet Massachusetts activist Eshe Shirley, a 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.