From Lead Counsel, Julia Olsen
Here’s a line we never thought we might be able to say: the fossil fuel industry is backing down. After spending 18 months trying to throw out the 21 youth plaintiffs’ climate lawsuit, a defeated American Petroleum Institute (API) and American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) filed motions last night requesting the court’s permission to withdraw from the litigation. This follows the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) nearly identical request earlier this week.
This is our youth plaintiffs’ victory. They have courageously taken on the federal government and the fossil fuel industry and won at every hurdle towards trial. With the fossil fuel industry leaving, we know we’re being taken seriously. This lawsuit poses what they call a “direct threat” to “all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry,” and they’re frightened of the scrutiny we’re bringing their way.
As we head towards trial we’re now in the part of the process known as “discovery,” where we’re asking defendants to reveal what they have known and chosen to disregard about climate change over the past 50 years. The fossil fuel industry may be scared. Maybe they have secrets to hide, and they know that their climate denial won’t hold up in a court of law.
As Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said on the steps of the Supreme Court in support of our case: “That’s why this lawsuit is so important: Because when you get to court, facts matter. When you get to court, witnesses must tell the truth, or they can be punished. When you get to the court, lawyers even have to tell the truth, at least to the court. When you get to the court, spin can be cross-examined. When you get to court, industry nonsense can be exposed.”
The plaintiffs will be responding to these motions in the coming week and ultimately whether the industry associations are allowed to withdraw and under what conditions will be up to the court. They are jostling to head out the back door before the fight, but there should be consequences for wasting the court’s time. Just as they’re retreating, we’re building our efforts, and we need you now more than ever. Can you donate now to support our effort towards trial? Can you volunteer your time to organize support in your community?
Executive Director, Our Children’s Trust
Co-lead Counsel, Juliana v. United States