Description: Lawsuit contending that Alaska state Climate and Energy Policy violated youth plaintiffs' rights under the state constitution.
Sinnok v. Alaska
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 10/27/2017 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Youth Plaintiffs Commenced Lawsuit Alleging That Alaska’s Climate and Energy Policy Violated Constitutional Rights. Sixteen youth plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the State of Alaska, its governor, and Alaska state agencies in Alaska state court alleging that the defendants had violated their rights under the Alaska constitution by implementing a “Climate and Energy Policy” that authorized and facilitated activities producing greenhouse gas emissions and failed to implement climate mitigation standards. The plaintiffs alleged that the State’s denial in September 2017 of their rulemaking petition requesting reductions of Alaska’s greenhouse gas emissions provided evidence of this Climate and Energy Policy and violated their constitutional rights. The plaintiffs charged that the defendants’ conduct infringed on their fundamental substantive due process rights to life, liberty, and property and other unenumerated rights, including the right to a stable climate system. The plaintiffs further contended that the defendants had knowingly and with deliberate indifference created a dangerous situation for the plaintiffs in violation of their substantive due process rights. In addition, the plaintiffs asserted an equal protection claim, contending that they should be treated as a protected class because some of the plaintiffs were below the voting age and because the “overwhelming majority of harmful effects” caused by the defendants’ actions would occur in the future; the plaintiffs asserted that “the harm caused by Defendants has denied Youth Plaintiffs the same protection of fundamental rights afforded to prior and present generations of adult citizens.” The complaint also alleged a violation of Alaska’s Public Trust Doctrine. The plaintiffs sought declaratory relief, an injunction barring the defendants from further implementing their Climate and Energy Policy, and orders requiring the defendants to complete an accounting of the State’s greenhouse gas emissions and to develop a climate recovery plan to achieve “science-based numeric reductions of Alaska’s in-boundary and extraction-based emissions consistent with global emissions reductions rates necessary to stabilize the climate system and protect the vital Public Trust Resources on which Youth Plaintiffs depend.”