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These Kids Can’t Vote, But They Can Sue

January 25, 2018

In Washington state, eight kids took the government to court to safeguard their future through stronger regulations on carbon emissions.

In November of 2015, after a year-and-a-half of legal proceedings, Judge Hollis Hill denied the young leaders' petition to the Washington Department of Ecology (commonly known as “Ecology”). In it, they had demanded that Ecology use more current science when regulating carbon emissions. (The activists initially filed the petition in June of 2014; they sued the state after it was denied). 

Although Judge Hill denied the petition on the grounds that Ecology is already undertaking other carbon regulations and that the court lacks the authority to tell Ecology what to consider when developing air quality standards, she affirmed something else: Ecology has the authority and duty to protect air and land quality for future generations, and the kids are constitutionally entitled to a healthy environment.

“[The young people’s] very survival depends upon the will of their elders to act now, decisively and unequivocally, to stem the tide of global warming,” Hill wrote in her ruling.

For more on these young leaders and their activism, read the full article in Yes! Magazine.

Note: This article was initially published in November 2015. It was reviewed and updated in January 2018.