Two Kids Sue Oregon, Want State to Protect Itself from Global Warming

Two students, ages 11 and 15, are trying to get their case sent to the state's Supreme Court.

Oregon forest

Two young students in Eugene, Oregon, are worried about the impact climate change will have on the state's resouces. (Photo: DaveArnoldPhoto.com /Getty Images)

Kelly Zhou has written on a variety of topics for TakePart, predominantly politics, education, and wildlife.

Two young environmentalists, frustrated with Oregon’s efforts regarding climate change, took matters into their own hands last May: they sued the state.

11-year-old Olivia Chernaik and 15-year-old Kelsey Juliana sued Governor John Kitzhaber and the state of Oregon, accusing them of “failing to protect the state’s resources against climate change,” reported The Oregonian. The Eugene residents wanted the state to collect more information on greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the impact of climate change.

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This April, Lane County Circuit Judge Karsten Rasmussen dismissed the suit, stating that the matter was up to the legislature, not the court, reported The Register-Guard. Now, Chernaik and Juliana have appealed the dismissal, instead filing a motion to ask the Oregon Court of Appeals to send the case directly to the state Supreme Court.

The girls, seeing climate change as an urgent issue, are trying to expedite the process, reported The Register-Guard this month. However, requesting the case to go directly to the Supreme Court is rare and it is unclear how long the process might take.

The suit from the two girls is one of more than 50 legal actions filed by kids across the country. Chernaik and Juliana filed the suit with the help of their mother and an environmental group called iMatter, which focuses on youth action regarding the climate crisis.

“I don’t want to live in a wasteland caused by climate change,” Chernaik said to The Register-Guard.

Do you think this is an effective way to create change regarding the government’s attitude toward global warming? Let us know in the comments.

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