March 8, 2019
Multnomah County, the most populous county in the state of Oregon, filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief with the Oregon Supreme Court in support of two young plaintiffs’ climate change lawsuit, Chernaik v. Brown.
January 9, 2019
The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled against youth plaintiffs. In the order, the court indicated that the public trust doctrine imposes no affirmative duty on the state. The court declined to state which natural resources fall within the scope of the public trust, leaving the youth plaintiff’s questions unanswered.
December 9, 2016
Oregon Court of Appeals to Hear Climate Lawsuit Filed by Youth
Kelsey Juliana and Olivia Chernaik are appealing Judge Rasmussen’s adverse decision from last year. In its decision, the court ruled that the state of Oregon has no responsibility to protect the atmosphere, water, or wildlife for present and future generations because they are not public trust resources. Without considering any of the evidence presented in expert declarations supporting the youth, which include declarations from the state’s own experts, the court questioned “whether the atmosphere is a ‘natural resource’ at all.”
On December 9, 2016 at 1:30pm PST, oral arguments in Chernaik v. Brown, will be presented before Oregon Court of Appeals judges Rex Armstrong, Douglas Tookey, and Scott Shorr.
February 25, 2016
Youth filed their opening brief with the Oregon Court of Appeals. The youth are supported by 53 law professors from across the nation and a broad coalition of individuals and organizations from across the state, including the Mayor of Eugene Kitty Piercy, who filed amicus curiae briefs arguing for the Court of Appeals to overturn the lower court's adverse decision.
Read the opening brief here.
Read the Law Professors' amicus brief here.
Read the amicus brief filed by the following individuals and organizations here.
Mayor Kitty Piercy, Representative Peter Buckley, Councilor Peter Cornelison, Oregon Physicians For Social Responsibility, Oregon Environmental Council, Climate Solutions, Policy Interactive, Tom Bowerman, Earth Guardians 350 Club, 350 PDX, 350 Eugene, Rogue Climate, Columbia Gorge Climate Action Network, Southern Oregon Climate Action Now, Hair On Fire, Douglas County Global Warming Coalition, Indow Windows, Eric Strid, Oregon Unitarian Universalist Voices For Justice, Interfaith Earthkeepers, Climate Justice Committee of The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis, League of Women Voters of Oregon, Coalition of Communities of Color
July 7, 2015
Oregon Youth File Critical Appeal In Their Climate Change Lawsuit
Two teenagers from Eugene appealed Judge Karsten Rasmussen’s adverse decision to their climate change lawsuit. In its decision, the court ruled that the state of Oregon has no responsibility to preserve Oregon’s iconic rivers and beaches, fish, wildlife, shorelands or the atmosphere for future generations. Without addressing any of the evidence presented in expert declarations supporting the youth, including statements from the state’s own scientists, the court questioned “whether the atmosphere is a ‘natural resource’ at all.” Last year, Judge Rasmussen was reversed by the Oregon Court of Appeals in the same case brought by the teens, and plaintiffs Kelsey Juliana and Olivia Chernaik are hopeful that the most recent decision will be overturned again.
May 11, 2015
Court Questions Whether Atmosphere is a "Natural Resource"
Without considering any of the undisputed evidence by expert witnesses, a Lane Country Circuit Court Judge tarnished Oregon’s strong environmental record, holding in an unprecedented opinion that the state has no responsibility to preserve beaches, shorelands, islands, fish, wildlife, or the atmosphere for future generations.
April 8, 2015
Hundreds of Oregonians from around the state came to Lane County Circuit Court to Support Youths' Landmark Climate Change Case
In front of a packed courtroom and national news media, Judge Karsten Rasmussen heard oral argument in a precedent setting climate change case, Chernaik v. Brown, brought by two young women from Eugene. More than 400 students and individuals from across the state flooded the courtroom and overflow room and took part in a silent vigil and theatrical tribunal outside the courtroom in support of Kelsey Juliana and Olivia Chernaik’s fight for their constitutional rights and meaningful state action on climate change.
“I’m very proud and grateful to my attorneys who represented us exceptionally well today,” said Juliana. “I’m disappointed and confused why my State is continuing to battle and resist our efforts to ensure our rights are beings upheld, by protecting vital resources needed for current and future generations. However, I remain optimistic and look forward to the judge’s decision.”
April 7, 2015
Lane County Circuit Court Will Hear Oral Argument in Kelsey and Olivia's Climate Case
Come watch Judge Karsten Rasmussen at Lane County Circuit Court hear oral argument in the caseChernaik v. Brown, brought by two young plaintiffs from Eugene, Oregon.
Last summer, and in a nationally significant decision in their case, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled a circuit court must decide whether the atmosphere is a public trust resource that the state of Oregon, as a trustee, has a duty to protect. Kelsey and Olivia were initially told they could not bring the case by Judge Karsten Rasmussen in Lane Country Circuit Court. The circuit court had ruled that climate change should be left only to the legislative and executive branches. The Oregon Court of Appeals overturned that decision, and the Kelsey and Olivia’s case will be heard before Judge Rasmussen once again.
Kelsey and Olivia, filed the climate change lawsuit against Governor Kitzhaber (now Governor Kate Brown) and the state of Oregon for failing to protect essential natural resources, including the atmosphere, state waters, and coast lines, as required under the public trust doctrine.
We need to show the judges that we support Kelsey and Olivia, in their efforts to protect everyone’s rights to a safe and livable Oregon.
Help us pack the courtroom!
WHEN: April 7, 2015, 2:30 p.m. PST (please arrive at least 15 minutes early)
WHERE: 125 East 8th Avenue, Eugene, OR 97401
March 27, 2015
March 13, 2015
Plaintiffs filed their response brief in opposition to the State's motion for summary judgment with the Circuit Court, and the State filed its response brief in opposition to Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment.
January 9, 2015
OREGON YOUTH’S CLIMATE CASE MOVES FORWARD
On April 7, 2015, Lane County Circuit Court Will Hear Arguments on Whether The State Of Oregon Has An Obligation To Protect Young People From The Impacts Of Climate Change
Today, two young plaintiffs from Eugene, Kelsey Juliana and Olivia Chernaik filed a motion for partial summary judgment in their climate change case, Chernaik v. Kitzhaber, to Lane County Circuit Court. Last summer, and in a nationally significant decision in their case, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled the court must decide whether the atmosphere is a public trust resource that the state of Oregon, as a trustee, has a duty to protect along with recognized public trust assets such as estuaries, rivers, and wildlife. Kelsey and Olivia’s attorneys will now argue before Judge Karsten Rasmussen in Lane Country Circuit Court that not only does the State have a sovereign duty to protect the public trust resources of Oregon like air and water from carbon pollution, but that it is violating its trustee obligation to present and future generations if it does not.
Read the expert declarations supporting the Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment from:
Dr. James Hansen, former Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Director of the Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions program at Columbia University's Earth Institute
Dr. Philip Mote, Director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute and Professor at the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University
Dr. Burke Hales, Professor of Ocean Ecology and Biogeochemistry at the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University
Ernest Niemi, Economist and Founder of Natural Resource Economics Inc.
June 11, 2014
Youth Win Reversal from Oregon Court of Appeals in Critical Climate Recovery Case
“Climate change is the biggest threat to our children,” said Julia Olson, Executive Director and Chief Legal Counsel of Our Children’s Trust. “Our political branches of government around the country have failed to meaningfully protect our fundamental rights to a healthy atmosphere. The Oregon Court of Appeals has affirmed the very purpose of our justice system to seek judicial review when other branches of our government violate our basic rights. The decision of the Oregon Court of Appeals affirms that youth deserve a judicial determination on whether the atmosphere is a natural resource that warrants governmental protection as a public trust resource. We are confident that the Oregon trial court will make the right determinations to protect our most precious natural resource on which all others rely: our atmosphere.”
January 16, 2014
The Oregon Court of Appeals heard argument in the Oregon atmospheric trust case before hundreds of people at the University of Oregon School of Law. Click here to watch the video recording of the hearing.
Read the press release here.
January 14, 2014
Law professors Mary Wood and Michael Blumm wrote a guest viewpoint in the Register Guard on the Oregon atmospheric trust lawsuit.
December 5, 2013
Law professors Michael Blumm and Mary Wood wrote an opinion piece in the Oregonian about how the Oregon Attorney General's position in the the Oregon atmospheric trust case "completely undermines the state’s 150 year-old trust obligation owed to its citizens."
October 31, 2013
The Oregon Court of Appeals has selected the Oregon atmospheric trust case to be argued at the University of Oregon School of Law on January 16, 2014. The lawsuit was filed against Governor Kitzhaber and the State of Oregon for failing to protect essential natural resources, including the atmosphere, as required under the Public Trust Doctrine. Kelsey Juliana, Olivia Chernaik, and their mothers brought the case to compel the Oregon State government to create a viable climate recovery plan for reducing carbon dioxide emissions in order to protect Oregon’s natural resources.
WHEN: Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 9:00 am
WHERE: University of Oregon, 1515 Agate St, Eugene, OR 97403
June 3, 2013
December 17, 2012
Oregon Political Leaders, Businesses, Agricultural and Student Native Groups and Legal Scholars Support Youth In Climate Change Lawsuit
Two amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs were filed in support of Kelsey Juliana and Olivia Chernaik’s appeal seeking to compel Governor Kitzhaber and the State of Oregon to take action to protect Oregonians from climate change by complying with their fiduciary duties under the Public Trust Doctrine. The amicus curiae brief on behalf of Oregon’s political leaders, businesses, agricultural groups and student native groups details potentially devastating impacts the state faces due to greenhouse gas emissions and climate instability, from ocean acidification to a decrease in agricultural productivity and significant decreases in snowpack and water supply. The Western Environmental Law Center also filed a separate amicus curiae brief on behalf of twenty-two top legal scholars from around the country urging the court to apply the Public Trust Doctrine to the atmosphere and allow the case to proceed.
Read the press release here.
December 10, 2012
Attorneys for youth plaintiffs file their opening brief with the Oregon Court of Appeals.
October 9, 2012
TRUST Oregon Film Released as Oregon's Court of Appeals Decides to Hear the Case
The lawsuit was filed against Governor Kitzhaber and the State of Oregon for failing to protect essential natural resources, including the atmosphere, as required under the Public Trust Doctrine. Kelsey Juliana, Olivia Chernaik, and their mothers brought the case to compel the Oregon State government to create a viable climate recovery plan for reducing carbon dioxide emissions in order to protect Oregon’s natural resources. “I hope the Court of Appeals understands the need to protect the atmosphere to ensure a livable planet for mine and future generations,” said 16-year-old Kelsey Juliana.
Today Kelsey’s story documenting her concerns over Oregon’s changing climate is being released in TRUST Oregon, a mini-documentary film. Her film is the eighth film in the ten-part, award-winning documentary series Stories of TRUST: Calling for Climate Recovery featuring the voices of daring youth from across the country who are pursuing lawsuits and asking the ruling generation to hear their climate change concerns. TRUST Oregon will be part of the Climate Reality Project’s 24-hours of Reality on November 14 and has already been prescreened at the Women’s Congress for Future Generations in Moab, Utah.
August 2, 2012
Two Oregon youth and their mothers, represented by the Crag Law Center, announced their decision to appeal a ruling dismissing their climate change lawsuit against Governor Kitzhaber and the State of Oregon for failing to protect essential natural resources, including the atmosphere, as required under the Public Trust Doctrine. At the same time, they are asking the Court of Appeals to send the case straight on to the Oregon Supreme Court through a rare certification process.
April 5, 2012
The trial court granted the State’s motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs will appeal to the Oregon Court of Appeals.
January 23, 2012
Hearing for State's Motion to Dismiss, 10.30 am Judge Karsten Rassmussen, Lane County Courthouse in Eugene Oregon.
May 4, 2011
Complaint was filed on behalf of Oregon plaintiffs by OCT partner Attorneys from the Crag Law Center, Chris Winters and Tanya Sanerib, and Oregon Attorney Liam Sherlock against the Oregon Governor and the State of Oregon.