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President Trump sued by children over Clean Power Plan repeal

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US President Donald Trump is being sued by two children and the Clean Air Council over his attempts to roll back the Clean Power Plan.

The Clean Power Plan was an Obama administration policy aimed at combating climate change and was first proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in June 2014.

In March 2017, Trump ordered a review of the plan via executive order after he described it as “job-killing regulation”.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, says the United States is “relying on junk science” and ignoring “clear and present dangers of climate change, knowingly increasing its resulting damages, death and destruction.”

Hausfield, the legal firm that has taken up the case, said it is the government’s responsibility to protect the lives and welfare of citizens and “the life-sustaining resources they depend on”.

They noted the increasing number of climate-related disasters that have hit the US in recent years.

“These acts of deliberate indifference are increasing US contributions to climate change, thereby increasing the frequency and intensity of its life-threatening effects and violating the constitutional rights of all US citizens,” Hausfield said.

The case is just the latest legal action that green advocates have taken to combat Trump administration efforts to roll back environmental regulations.

The two young plaintiffs, aged 7 and 11, are identified only by their first and last initials in the court papers, which allege that both are suffering from the effects of a rapidly warming climate.

Trump has called climate change a hoax and said in June he would withdraw the United States from a global pact to combat it, calling the deal’s demands for emissions cuts too costly for the US economy. 

The lawsuit asks the court to prevent the EPA, Trump and the US Department of Energy, along with energy secretary Rick Perry and EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, from rolling back any rules that “increase the frequency and/or intensity of life-threatening effects of climate change.”

Clean Air Council executive director Joseph Minott said: “We will not stand idly by while President Trump and his agencies raze crucial environmental protections, ignore climate science, dispute well-documented facts and force future generations of Americans to suffer the consequences of this administration’s reckless choices and ignorant policies.”

The EPA and Energy Department representatives declined to comment.

By including the children, the Clean Air Council seemed to model its case after Juliana vs. US, a pending federal case in which a group of teenagers sued the US government for violating their constitutional rights by causing climate change.

“The Clean Air Council case is taking the legal theories pioneered in Juliana and applying them to a narrow set of facts related to specific rollbacks of the Trump administration,” said Meg Ward, a spokeswoman for Our Children’s Trust, a group leading the Juliana suit.

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