Massachusetts Loses Climate Action Case Brought by Youths

Published June 22, 2016

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) failed to comply with its legal obligation to reduce the state’s greenhouse-gas emissions, according to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled in favor of four teenagers supported by Our Children’s Trust, the Conservation Law Foundation, and the Mass Energy Consumers Alliance.

The court ordered DEP to create regulations addressing multiple sources or categories of sources of greenhouse-gas emissions, and the Court mandated DEP impose a limit on released emissions and set limits that decline annually. Currently, Massachusetts is not on track to meet its 2020 greenhouse-gas-reduction goal of cutting emissions by 25 percent below 1990 levels.

The court’s action did not surprise David Schnare, general counsel at the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, who says the courts did not pass judgment concerning whether climate change was happening or harmful, rather it was simply enforcing the law.

“All the [Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court] did was a routine function to force the legislature to do what it was required to do by law,” said Schnare. “The Court did not say climate change was a horrible thing, rather it ruled [the] state had not done its job under the law and told them to do it.”

The Massachusetts decision comes in the wake of a similar case, which was also decided in favor of environmentalists, this time by a court in Washington State in April 2016. In that lawsuit, brought by seven teenagers against the Washington Department of Ecology (WDOE), the judge ruled WDOE had to promulgate an emissions reduction rule by the end of 2016 and, in consultation with the youth petitioners, recommend additional greenhouse-gas reductions for the State Legislature to consider adopting during the 2017 legislative session.

Other youth-led lawsuits, all supported by Our Children’s Trust, are pending in Colorado, North Carolina, and Oregon. 

Misled on Climate Change

Tom Harris, executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition, says these cases highlight how young people misunderstand climate change.

“The world spends about $1 billion a day to fight climate change, yet only 6 percent of the money goes to adaptation to help people who are suffering with real problems today, and that’s where the real crime is,” Harris said.

Students and others are not getting all the facts, Harris says.

“What we really need to be asking is, ‘Is known suffering of people today more important than possible suffering of unborn people in the future,'” Harris said. “Most people have never thought about climate change this way, and the kids are all focused on possible future suffering. This is an absolute crime.”

“Most adults consider security, potable water, education, etc., much more important than climate change,” said Harris. “And when you consider about 5 million Africans die every year because they do not have fresh, drinkable water, you realize the kids are being totally propagandized.”

Higher Energy Prices

Harris says one of the results of the case is if Massachusetts reduces its emission levels by the amounts required by law, the cost of energy will go up, because the state will have to phase out the use of coal to generate electricity.

“The number-one factor in the rising cost of electricity is the phasing out of coal,” said Harris. “People will have to pay more for electricity, and this will disproportionately harm the poor, who will have to pay a greater portion of their budgets for heat and to cool their homes.”

Kids Being Propagandized

Marc Morano, executive director of ClimateDepot, a project of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, says the environmental movement is attempting to indoctrinate today’s youth.

“It’s a brilliant tactic by the environmental left,” Morano said. “It gives the kids something tangible they can hold on to and it radicalizes them about the environment early on. However, kids are being spoon-fed a version of science that does not comport with reality.

“The environmental left carefully censors or bans opposing ideas, like in Portland, Oregon, where you now can’t even mention in school textbooks climate change may not be as bad as we thought,” Morano said.

“Accurate climate science is being suppressed, meaning the kids don’t get to hear opposing views,” said Morano. “It’s narrative-crafting, the same kind of thing you would expect from any partisan campaign group.

“And then you add in the media, with people like Leonardo DiCaprio and Laurie David telling kids if you’re a global warming skeptic, you are not cool,” said Morano. “I guess they’re afraid the kids will instantly become skeptics if they hear any opposing ideas.

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Dallas, Texas.