77ºF

Young Floridians appeal dismissal of their climate change lawsuit

Plaintiffs sued Florida over climate change
Plaintiffs sued Florida over climate change (WJXT)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of Floridians aged 12 to 22 who are concerned about climate change, but the youth plaintiffs are appealing the ruling.

The judge said the issue is political, but the plaintiffs say the politicians are violating their rights.

Delaney Reynolds is one of eight young Floridians named in a lawsuit against the state seeking to force more action to combat climate change.

“I want to be able to live in South Florida when I'm older. I want my kids and grandkids and others in future generations to be able to live here,” said Reynolds, who lives in Miami.

The suit is based on the premise that the right to a clean environment is part of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs argue the state’s energy policy is actively contributing to the demise of the environment.

“Florida gets about less than 3% of their energy from renewables. So because it’s so dominated from fossil fuels it results in very high levels of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Andrea Rodgers Sr., attorney for Our Children’s Trust.

And plaintiffs like Reynolds have seen the effects first hand.

“It didn't flood when I was younger and now it floods multiple times a year and that's only going to get worse if we don't do something about it,” said Reynolds.

However, Circuit Court Judge Kevin Carroll saw it differently and threw out the case before it could go to trial.

He argued the issue was political and should be left to the legislative and executive branches to address.

Attorney Guy Burns is also representing the plaintiffs.

He asserts lawmakers have had their chance and action is needed now.

That’s the case they’ll make as legal battle moves to an appellate court.

“It’s time for the third and co-equal branch of government, the judicial system, to step up and require the other two branches of government to stop the conduct that’s violating the constitutional rights of our clients,” Burns said.

Lawyers representing the governor and the Department of Agriculture have argued there is no constitutional right to a healthy environment, any more than there is a constitutional right to world peace or economic prosperity.

The judge ruled from the bench and has not yet issued put the ruling to ink and paper, but he promised to write his ruling in a way that it could be appealed and wished the young plaintiffs good luck.