Republican-led states want a seat at the table as the Biden administration discusses settlement options in a novel climate case led by a group of children and young adults.
Alabama and 16 other states on Tuesday moved to intervene in Juliana v. United States, also known as the kids’ climate case, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.
A federal judge last month ordered the Biden administration and the 21 young plaintiffs to engage in settlement talks, leaving the states with “no choice but to move for limited intervention in this case to ensure their interests are not undermined,” they told the court.
The ambitious case, filed in 2015, accuses the federal government of violating what the plaintiffs call a constitutional right to a stable climate system by enabling a nationwide reliance on fossil fuels. A federal appeals court tossed the case on jurisdictional grounds last year, and the young litigants sought to restart district court proceedings by framing their claims more narrowly.
The district court is considering that request but ordered both sides to discuss settlement options that would eliminate the need for ongoing litigation. Lawyers for the plaintiffs have said they would consider deals that include some federal commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Justice Department lawyers can’t agree to settlements that commit an agency to spend money Congress hasn’t appropriated or otherwise limit an agency’s discretion.
But Alabama and other states in the coalition say they’re worried the Biden administration will use “collusive litigation tactics to overhaul our national energy system via federal-court fiat.”
Our Children’s Trust Executive Director Julia Olson, who represents the plaintiffs, criticized the states’ move.
“These state attorney general intervenors are acting as surrogates for those moneyed interests, not in the interests of their states’ children or public health and safety,” she said in a statement.
Joining Alabama in the coalition are Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.
The case is Juliana v. United States, D. Or., No. 6:15-cv-01517, motion filed 6/8/21,