Maine kids file petition to force state to address climate change

Maine kids file petition to force state to address climate change

A group of Mainers submitted a climate change petition for rulemaking to the state Department of Environmental Protection and Board of Environmental Protection last week requesting that the implement an effective CO2 and GHG reduction strategy based on the best climate science. The petitioners – 216 registered voters, 164 young people, and the groups 350 Maine and Earth Guardians – claim that failure to implement such a strategy would be detrimental for their well-being and survival.

“This petition for rulemaking is an incredible opportunity for Maine to do its part to address climate change and ocean acidification before the devastating impacts become locked in,” said Nate Bellinger, staff attorney with Our Children’s Trust. “Maine must act with all deliberate speed to prepare and implement plans to transition the State from a fossil fuel based economy to a just economy based on renewable energy.”

The petition was filed just two weeks after young people from around the U.S. had their landmark constitutional climate lawsuit heard before U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken. The Maine youth petitioners are the latest young people in the U.S. to file climate legal action with the help of Our Children’s Trust.

“Our youth have a right to inherit a planet that is healthy; if we stay the course, we will be handing over an uncertain future with a planet in climate crisis and chaos,” said Sarah Lachance of 350 Maine. “It is unacceptable to burden them with this reality because of our inability to take meaningful action around stemming climate change. 350 Maine is proud to support today’s youth in demanding what is their constitutional right, a sustainable future.”

The petition sites to the preamble to Maine’s constitution, which states that the purpose of the state government is to “establish justice, insure tranquility, provide for our mutual defense, promote our common welfare, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of liberty.” Petitioners claim “there can hardly be a resource more necessary to our ‘common welfare’ than a healthy atmosphere and stable climate system.” The petition also outlines the tremendous threat the climate change and ocean acidification pose to Maine’s economy and important resources including its forests, marine fisheries, freshwater ecosystems, and farms.

“I would really like the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to keep our waters safe from pollution,” said 13-year-old petitioner Ryan Muse. “I also want the DEP to make laws that will stop everyone from using fossil fuels that harm our people, land, wildlife, ocean and drinking water.”

Photo: young supporters of Our Children’s Trust, via Facebook

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