You can’t fight city hall, but can you sue the federal government?

May 12, 2012

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The future health of our environment is being taken to court. Credit: Astrid Riecken/Getty Images

Alec Loorz is a regular kid about to graduate from high school. He’ s studying for final exams, playing Ultimate Frisbee on the weekends and, oh yeah, suing the federal government.

Loorz, along with four other juveniles (he’s turning 18 at the end of the month), have filed suit against Lisa P. Jackson, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and heads of several other departments. These young litigators are primarily concerned with climate change, and are demanding that the U.S. government reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 6% each year starting in 2013. Some critics are already writing this off as a mere publicity stunt, but organizations such as the National Association of Manufacturers and several others gave the suit enough credit to file a motion to intervene in the case.

District Court Judge Robert L. Wilkins, an Obama appointee, granted this motion, and last Friday heard the defendants’ reasoning for a dismissal of the case. Their main point of contention is whether or not individuals and organizations can use tort law to affect policy decisions that would affect the entire nation. The National Association of Manufacturers and similarly minded groups don’t think so. If this case continues, and if a high court rules in the plaintiffs’ favor, there would be a definite negative effect on industrial businesses. Transportation and manufacturing costs would go up, and using conventional sources of energy as has been done for decades would eventually be impossible.

How did Alec Loorz get the idea to file this suit? What other players are involved in this case? What’s more important, to maintain the level of business and productivity in a lagging economy, or try to advance environmental gains which could pay off down the road. Loorz himself says, “We are the future. But we’re more than that. We’re here now. So let’s work together to change the world. Not just occupy it.” Do you agree or disagree?


Alec Loorz, high school student from Ventura, California and one of the plaintiffs in “Alec L. et. al vs. Lisa P. Jackson, et. al”

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