Environmental -- active

Juliana v. United States   (D. Ore.)

Regulation by litigation -- public trust theory for greenhouse gas regulation

A group of young people are the plaintiffs in this case demanding that various federal agencies do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, so that world levels will drop by at least 6% per year. The theory of their case is that the President and 9 federal agencies have a constitutional duty to under the "public trust doctrine" to hold the atmosphere and other public trust resources in trust for current and future generations.

A similar challenge was already heard and rejected by federal courts from 2011 to 2014. Alec L. v. McCarthy.. The courts ruled that the plaintiffs did not present a federal question, because the theory of public trust is entirely a state law issue.

The NAM and other business groups moved to intervene in this latest litigation on Nov. 12, 2015. At the same time, we filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing not only that the litigation does not present a federal question, but also that it raises political questions that should be addressed through the legislative and executive branches of government, rather than through an undemocratic and judicially unmanageable proceeding based on an archaic legal principle.

After a lengthy oral argument, the judge granted our motion to intervene on 1/13/2016. Additional arguments on our motion to dismiss took place in March, but the magistrate judge issued a recommendation to the court that the motion be denied. We filed objections to this report on May 2, 2016, underscoring the serious problems of standing and justiciability that the plaintiffs face in this case. The federal government filed similar objections, and oral argument was held on Sept. 13.

On Nov. 10, Judge Ann Aiken upheld the magistrate's recommendation and denied the motions to dismiss. The case will now proceed to trial.

On March 7, the U.S. Department of Justice asked the court to certify an immediate appeal of the ruling denying dismissal of the case. The NAM and other intervenors filed a similar motion on March 10. Those motions are pending.

In late May, the NAM and other intervenors in the case filed motions to withdraw from this case. These motions were granted on June 28.

Related Documents:
Objections brief  (May 2, 2016)
Motion to dismiss  (November 12, 2015)
Motion to intervene  (November 12, 2015)


© 2019 National Association of Manufacturers