PENNSYLVANIA

Created in 2012 as part of our Stories of Trust: Calling for Climate Recovery documentary series, Pennsylvania plaintiff Ashley Funk shares her climate story. 

LEGAL UPDATES

November 14, 2016

Seven Pennsylvania Youth filed their Opening Brief to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, appealing the district court’s decision to dismiss their case. The Plaintiffs are arguing that Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, the Environmental Rights Amendment, requires the Commonwealth to protect Pennsylvania’s public natural resources, which the Youth Plaintiffs and future generations rely on for their wellbeing and survival.

August 24, 2016

Youth plaintiffs file appeal of district court’s dismissal of their constitutional public trust case. The appeal goes directly to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

July 27, 2016

Pennsylvania Court Disregards Constitutional Obligation to Protect Natural Resources for Present and Future Generations

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania dismissed the constitutional climate change lawsuit brought by seven young plaintiffs. The court found that the plaintiffs had standing to bring their case because climate change was a substantial, direct, and immediate threat to them. However, the court declined to follow Pennsylvania Supreme Court precedent that determined that Pennsylvania’s constitutional Environmental Rights Amendment imposes an affirmative duty on the Commonwealth to “conserve and maintain” Pennsylvania’s public natural resources for both present and future generations. 

Read the full press release.

June 6, 2016

A panel of judges in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania heard oral arguments in the constitutional and public trust climate change case brought by seven young plaintiffs against Gov. Tom Wolf and six state agencies. 

December 4, 2015

Youth plaintiffs filed with the court their Amended Petition for Review. Among other things, the Amended Petition includes the addition of one new Pennsylvania Plaintiff, Kaia Elinich.

September 16, 2015

Six young people filed a constitutional public trust climate change lawsuit in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania against Governor Tom Wolf and six state agencies, including the Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board. The six youth plaintiffs are seeking to protect their constitutional rights to clean air, pure water, and other essential natural resources, which they rely on for their survival and wellbeing, but are currently threatened by climate change. They are asking the defendants to take steps necessary to regulate Pennsylvania’s carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases consistent with the Commonwealth’s duty and obligations as public trustee under Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution to conserve and maintain public natural resources, including the atmosphere, for the benefit of present and future generations. Their complaint asserts that defendants are failing to fulfill their trustee obligations to meet the Commonwealth’s Article I, Section 27 requirements by failing to regulate CO2 emissions, as evidenced by the current harmful impacts of climate change within Pennsylvania, such as extreme weather events, rising temperatures, and disruptions to the hydrological cycle.

Read the full press release here.                                                                            Read the complaint.

August 19, 2014

At a public hearing this morning, the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board (EQB) voted not to move forward with 20-year-old Ashley Funk’s climate change petition. Ashley, a Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania native, filed her petition for rulemaking last September to the EQB and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to strictly limit and regulate fossil fuel CO2 emissions, and to establish an emissions reduction strategy in line with achieving 350 parts per million atmospheric CO2 concentration by 2100. OUR CHILDREN'S TRUST is consulting with Ashley Funk and local counsel about next steps following the denial of Ashley's petition for rulemaking. Based on Pennsylvania's Environmental Rights Amendment, Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, we are pursuing additional legal avenues for enforcing the youth's constitutional rights to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate in Pennsylvania.

Read the full press release.

May 30, 2014

20-year-old Ashley Funk's attorney, Kenneth Kristl from Widener Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, submitted comments in response to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Report on Ashley's climate change petition.

Read the full press release here.

April 15, 2014

The Pennsylvania DEP issued a written Report on Ashley's climate change petition. Ashley's attorneys will submit comments on the Report next month.

November 19, 2013

The Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board voted to accept Ashley Funk’s climate change petition for rulemaking. Ashley, a 20-year-old from Mount Pleasant, PA, filed her revised climate change petition in September to the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to strictly limit and regulate fossil fuel CO2 emissions, and to establish an emissions reduction strategy that will achieve safe atmospheric concentrations of CO2 by 2100. In October, the DEP determined that the petition met its petition policies. Today, Ashley’s attorney, Kenneth Kristl from Widener Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, made a five-minute presentation on the petition to the Board before they put the petition to vote.

Read the press release and check out the petition for rulemaking!

January 18, 2013

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection filed Preliminary Objections in the Commonwealth Court.

December 19, 2012

Ashley Funk appealed the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Quality's Nov. 16th denial of her petition for rulemaking. Because of a complicated jurisdictional question, Ashley filed a Petition for Review of Final Agency Action in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania at the same time that she filed a Notice of Appeal with the Environmental Hearing Board, an administrative appeals board.

October 2, 2012

Ashley Funk submitted a revised petition for rulemaking after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection denied her previous petition.

July 23, 2012

Youth filed a new petition for rulemaking with five Pennsylvania agencies asking them to adopt rules to reduce the state's carbon dioxide emissions by 6% per year starting in 2013, in line with our nation's best science on climate recovery. Pennsylvania ranks among the top 4 states in the nation for carbon emissions. And it is ground zero for hydro-fracking and coal.

On the same day, Petitioner Ashley Funk sent her story TRUST Pennsylvania to over 200 state and federal decision-makers along with her personal letter calling for action on emissions reductions. Ashley will continue her work against fracking and climate change as she goes off to college this fall. We look forward to the day when Ashley will be making our nation's policies!

May 4, 2011

A petition for rulemaking was filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on behalf of Pennsylvania youth.