First page of a suit filed on behalf of Clean Air Council and two Pennsylvania children against the federal government to prevent it from rolling back policies, programs, laws, rules, and regulations previously in place to address and ameliorate climate change and its consequences. Graphic: Hausfeld

By Bobby Magill
6 November 2017

(Climate Liability News) – An environmental group and two Pennsylvania children filed suit against the Trump administration Monday, accusing the federal government of using “junk science” to reverse federal climate policies and knowingly increasing the “damages, death and destruction” that result from climate change.

The suit, filed by Philadelphia’s Clean Air Council and the two children, asks the U.S. District Court to stop any Trump administration action that would increase greenhouse gas emissions and  would make the effects of climate change worse.

The case builds upon an Oregon federal court case, Juliana v. United States, which was filed in 2015 by a group of 21 children asking the court to recognize a stable climate as a constitutional right and force the government to cut carbon emissions. That case also inspired proposed legal action on behalf of six Portuguese children that would try to force 47 European countries to cut their climate pollution.

The Clean Air Council case takes aim at what it describes as the Trump administration’s goal to deconstruct the administrative state: reversing federal regulations, casting doubt on established climate science and repealing numerous Obama administration climate policies, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

The lawsuit says the Trump administration’s climate policy rollbacks rely on “junk science,” which are part of Trump’s “war on facts.” The suit cites 115 of President Trump’s tweets denying established climate science or calling it a hoax and numerous other administration statements countering the accepted scientific consensus. One of those statements was made by White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, who said in May that the government will no longer fund “crazy” climate action.

The administration has also sent a dramatically smaller contingent to the latest United Nations meetings to discuss the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, which kicked off Monday in Bonn, Germany. They are the first meetings since Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the agreement, and his representatives are instead reported to be promoting a continued reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear power.

The administration continues to make those arguments despite the Friday release of the latest  National Climate Assessment, which concluded unwaveringly that climate change is largely human-driven, is occurring swiftly and is an increasingly severe threat to human health and welfare.

The Clean Air Council lawsuit alleges that the Trump administration is knowingly ignoring those dire warnings, and its climate policy rollbacks violate the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and the Public Trust Doctrine, which requires the government to manage public resources for the common benefit of current and future generations. [more]

Citing Climate Change ‘Death and Destruction,’ Philadelphia Group Sues U.S. Government

PHILADELPHIA, 6 November 2017 – On behalf of Clean Air Council and two Pennsylvania children, Hausfeld filed suit today in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the federal government to prevent it from rolling back policies, programs, laws, rules, and regulations previously in place to address and ameliorate climate change and its consequences. This pro bono litigation focuses on the federal government’s knowledge (dating back over fifty years) that climate change presents a clear and present danger to life, and represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet. You can read the full complaint here.

The United States has experienced a steady increase in extreme weather events caused by climate change, as exemplified most recently by the devastating impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and the October California wildfires. If not adequately addressed, climate change will cause human deaths, shorten human life spans, result in widespread damage to property, threaten human food sources, drastically affect human air quality, and dramatically alter the planet’s ecosystem to the detriment of the plaintiffs in this case, their children and grandchildren, and all future generations.

The federal government has relied on junk science to implement reckless climate change policies in the face of indisputable U.S. and international scientific consensus. It is the government’s responsibility to protect the lives and welfare of citizens and the life-sustaining resources they depend on. These acts of deliberate indifference are increasing U.S. contributions to climate change, thereby increasing the frequency and intensity of its life-threatening effects, and violating the constitutional rights of all U.S. citizens.

Plaintiffs are leading Philadelphia environmental nonprofit Clean Air Council and two child plaintiffs who have been personally impacted by climate change. The Federal Government Defendants include President Donald Trump, the Department of Energy, Secretary Rick Perry, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Clean Air Council Executive Director and Chief Counsel Joseph Minott said: “We will not stand idly by while President Trump and his agencies raze crucial environmental protections, ignore climate science, dispute well-documented facts and force future generations of Americans to suffer the consequences of this administration’s reckless choices and ignorant policies. We must hold the federal government accountable for the long-term environmental harm that is propagating under its direction. It’s time to fight back.”

Scientists refer to climate change as the most important issue of our time. Human contribution to climate change, which exacerbates its effects, has reached a critical moment, the consequences of which are potentially irreversible. Hausfeld Chairman Michael D. Hausfeld stated: “By deliberately engaging in this rollback of climate policies and programs, the government is affirmatively endangering the lives and welfare of its citizens.”

This lawsuit comes on the heels of the federal government’s release of the National Climate Assessment, which, in stark contrast to the administration’s environmental policies, affirms that climate change is almost entirely caused by human action and is a growing threat to the United States.

Hausfeld attorneys working on this case include Michael D. Hausfeld, Seth R. Gassman, Katie R. Beran, Braden Beard, and Michaela Spero.


Deborah Schwartz
Media Relations
(240) 355-8838

Jamie Kloss
Braithwaite Communications
(215) 564-3200 ext. 162

Hausfeld files suit on behalf of Clean Air Council against Federal government for knowingly endangering U.S. citizens through climate change rollbacks



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