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9th Circuit schedules oral arguments in youth federal climate lawsuit

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit will hear oral arguments June 4 on a lawsuit through which a group of youth seeks to make federal agencies address and limit the impacts of climate change.

A federal court ruling that the government must act on climate change could have wide-reaching implications for U.S. energy policy, particularly if the case is resolved during the current administration, which has moved to unwind regulations holding back fossil fuel development.

To be held in Portland, Ore., the oral arguments will address the Trump administration's effort to block a lower court from holding trial proceedings in the case. The 9th Circuit in December 2018 granted the federal government permission to file interlocutory appeal seeking a ruling on certain questions of law before the trial in front of Judge Ann Aiken begins in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Eugene Division.

The government has been fighting the case since 2015, when two environmental groups and 21 children filed suit against then-President Barack Obama, numerous federal agencies and executive branch officials. The plaintiffs alleged that the government has a constitutional responsibility to take more steps to curb carbon dioxide emissions and address climate change.

In February, the youth asked the 9th Circuit to order federal regulators to halt consideration of all pending permits for fossil fuel-related projects on federal land until the matter has been resolved.

The case now on hold in federal district court is Juliana v. U.S. (No. 6:15-cv-01517). The 9th Circuit case is Juliana v. U.S. (No. 18-36082).