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By William Perry Pendley, President and Chief Operating Officer of Mountain States Legal Foundation
July 29, 2011 - DENVER, CO. A Colorado nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation today urged a Colorado state court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by minors and an environmental group demanding that Colorado and state agencies end climate change by imposing carbon emission limits. Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), on behalf of its Colorado members, advised the court in its legal brief that the plaintiffs lack "standing," that is, the right to file their lawsuit. MSLF, which earlier sought to intervene as of right to protect the interests of its Colorado members, argues that the relief sought by the plaintiffs represents a radical and heretofore unknown departure from well-established Colorado law and the common law "public trust doctrine," a demand that will adversely affect the ability of MSLF's Colorado members to engage in economic activities-development of minerals, oil and gas, timber, livestock, and crops-and recreational pursuits. MSLF argues that Colorado never adopted the common law public trust doctrine as to water, as have some States, let alone as to the atmosphere as the plaintiffs demand.
"With public support for the fiction of man-made climate change at an all time low, it is little wonder these plaintiffs demand that the courts do what elected officials will not do," said William Perry Pendley, MSLF president.
On May 4, 2011, several individuals and WildEarth Guardians filed a lawsuit against the State of Colorado, the Governor, and a number of state agencies, which was amended on May 20, alleging that the defendants have contributed to global warming by failing to "reduce Colorado's fair share of annual CO2 emissions, in order to draw down atmospheric CO2 to less than 350 ppm by the end of this century." The plaintiffs' single claim for relief is that defendants' failure to reduce Colorado's "fair share" of carbon emissions damages the atmosphere and therefore violates the "public trust."
The individual plaintiffs are children and young adults who allege that they will suffer harms if carbon dioxide emissions are not reduced "to less than 350 ppm by the end of this century" and climate change is allowed to continue unabated. They also allege that climate change has increased the bark beetle population, which has in turn harmed their enjoyment of various forests. One plaintiff also alleges that climate change has exacerbated her asthma by worsening air quality and contributing to a longer growing season for allergens. WildEarth Guardians alleges that it has worked to restore water ecosystems, which work will be undone by climate change.
MSLF successfully urged the U.S. Supreme Court to dismiss a similar federal lawsuit and is now before a federal appellate court asking that it vacate the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) "cap and trade" rule.
Mountain States Legal Foundation, created in 1977, is a nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system. Its offices are in suburban Denver, Colorado.
Download a free copy of the complaint in Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, a minor, by and through next friend and parent, Tamara Roske, et al. v. State Of Colorado, Governor John Hickenlooper, et al.
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