Nature’s Trust Rhode Island filed an appeal in Rhode Island Superior Court on the decision by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) to deny a petition by youth, young adults, and others. The petition, filed on September 5, asked the department to live up to its duty to put in place a plan to reduce the threats of climate change. DEM denied the petition in full on October 5. The appeal asserts that the department failed to provide an adequate explanation for its decision, as is required for any administrative action.
Alex Duryea, a graduate student at the University of Rhode Island and a board member of Nature’s Trust Rhode Island said: “We hope that instead of a cursory denial, DEM will be forced to take a closer look at our recommendations as well as at the latest scientific reports. Our goal is that DEM will reconsider the denial of our petition and will publish it as a proposal to address the problem of greenhouse gas emissions.”
Chloe, a junior at the Met High School in Providence, another petitioner, and a member of the board of Nature’s Trust Rhode Island said: “Our voices have been ignored by the Rhode Island government, DEM, and court systems of the United States. Climate change is a serious issue that cannot be ignored any longer. If we wait too long, the change will not be able to happen. In other words, it’s now or never.”
Petitioners were heartened to learn last Friday that a related federal trial will go forward now that the United States Supreme Court has lifted its temporary stay that prevented youth plaintiffs to take their case, Juliana v United States, to court last October 29. The stay led to nationwide protests. At one such a protest in Providence, Philip, a high school student, said, “I am 14 and play way too many video games. I could be on the computer playing with my friends, but I have to worry about my future. What were you thinking when you were 14? You probably weren’t thinking about the future of the planet and that major parts of Rhode Island may disappear. I’d rather be home, but I feel that the government is playing games with my future.”
As to the appeal, Meghan, a sophomore at West Warwick High School, said: “There is so much change that we can make by having a common goal. The DEM must use its position to allow others to become involved. That has the potential to generate a wave of revolt, which is needed to take back control of the planet’s future.”
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President of Nature’s Trust Rhode Island, Peter Nightingale, Professor of Physics at the University of Rhode Island, explained, “Since we filed our petition, several major scientific reports were issued. Those by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Academy of Sciences support the urgency of key steps sought in our petition: drastic reduction of emission of greenhouse gasses, specifically short-lived ones such as natural gas; crucial expansion of natural carbon sinks such as forests; and accelerated research of agricultural and other methods of extracting carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.”
[From a press release]
- Negative Emissions Technologies and Reliable Sequestration: A Research Agenda, National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
- IPCC Special Report
- IPCC Technical Summary
- Nature‘s Trust Rhode Island