Description: Youth plaintiffs' lawsuit alleging that the establishment, operation, and maintenance of Hawai‘i’s state transportation system violates the Hawai‘i Constitution’s public trust doctrine and right to a clean and healthful environment.
Navahine F. v. Hawai‘i Department of Transportation
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 06/01/2022 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Youth Plaintiffs Filed Lawsuit Alleging Hawai‘i State Transportation System Violated Constitutional Environmental Protections. Fourteen young people filed a lawsuit in Hawai‘i Circuit Court alleging that establishment, operation, and maintenance of Hawai‘i’s state transportation system violates the Hawai‘i Constitution’s public trust doctrine and infringes on the right provided by the Hawai‘i Constitution to a clean and healthful environment as defined by a “growing body” of Hawai‘i laws that seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The defendants are the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT), HDOT’s Director, Governor David Ige, and the State of Hawai‘i. The youth plaintiffs alleged that the defendants are responsible for “high and untenable levels of greenhouse gas emissions because they have engaged in an ongoing pattern and practice of promoting, funding, and implementing transportation projects that lock in and escalate the use of fossil fuels, rather than projects that mitigate and reduce emissions,” including by prioritizing infrastructure projects such as highway construction and expansion. The plaintiffs’ allegations also included that HDOT did not cooperate or coordinate with other agencies to meet Hawai‘i’s greenhouse gas reduction goals, including a 2045 Zero Emissions Target established by state law in 2021, and that HDOT failed to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations. The plaintiffs requested declaratory relief and also injunctive relief in the form of an order directing the defendants to cease establishing, maintaining, and operating the transportation system in a manner that breaches the defendants’ constitutional obligations and compelling the defendants to take “concrete action steps under prescribed deadlines” to conform the transportation system to the defendants’ constitutional duties. They also asked the court to exercise continuing jurisdiction and oversight, including through appointment of special master.