Description: Claims against the federal government alleging violations of a constitutional right to wilderness and seeking order requiring the government to prepare and implement a remedial plan to mitigate climate change impacts.
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. United States
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 07/31/2019 Opinion and Order Download Motion to dismiss granted. Oregon Federal Court Dismissed Climate Case That Claimed a “Right to Wilderness”. The federal district court for the District of Oregon dismissed a lawsuit in which two nonprofit organizations and six individuals claimed that climate change and the government’s failure to protect them from climate change violated their constitutional rights. The court ruled that the plaintiffs failed to allege the particularized harm necessary for standing because climate change is “a diffuse, global phenomenon that affects every citizen of the world.” The court further ruled that it lacked jurisdiction to make the “policy decisions” that would be required to grant the relief sought by the plaintiffs, which related to federal policies on fossil fuels, agriculture, logging, and family planning. In addition, the court found no basis for the plaintiffs’ assertions of a fundamental right to wilderness and therefore found that they failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The court distinguished the district court’s decisions in Juliana, writing that the Juliana plaintiffs “did not object to the government’s role in just any pollution or climate change, but rather catastrophic levels of pollution or climate change.” The court also said the right to a “stable climate system” at issue in Juliana was narrower than the right to wilderness for which the plaintiffs advocated in this case. 07/01/2019 Response Download Response filed by plaintiffs to defendants' motion to dismiss and alternative motion for stay. 05/16/2019 Motion to Dismiss Download Defendants filed motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for a stay pending the Ninth Circuit's decision in Juliana v. United States. 02/14/2019 Complaint Download First amended complaint filed. 10/22/2018 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Lawsuit Filed in Oregon Federal Court Alleging Constitutional Right to Protection of Wilderness from Climate Change. Animal Legal Defense Fund, Seeding Sovereignty (an organization that seeks to “amplify the role of indigenous knowledge for environmental justice”), “Future Generations,” and individual plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in the federal district court for the District of Oregon alleging that the federal government violated their constitutional rights “to be let alone free from human influence in wilderness.” The plaintiffs asked the court for a declaration that the defendants violated their constitutional rights under the First, Fifth, Fourteenth, and Ninth Amendments by causing and contributing to dangerous concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. They asked that a special master be appointed to “facilitate the immediate review of potential Wilderness Areas for designation as a means to reduce the impacts of climate change on wilderness, in keeping with statutory mandates” and that the federal government be ordered “to prepare and implement an enforceable national remedial plan to expeditiously phase out commercial logging of old-growth forests, animal agriculture, and fossil fuel development and extraction in order to draw down greenhouse gases until the climate system has stabilized for the protection of wilderness on which Plaintiffs now and in the future will depend for the exercise of their fundamental autonomy and privacy rights.”