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Duryea vs RIDEM: judge recuses herself; Court date rescheduled



On August 29, 2019, Nature’s Trust Rhode Island appeared at a hearing in Superior Court, along with supporters, to seek a court order. That order would compel the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) to answer questions and provide documents and information requested over six months ago. These issues are part of litigation that challenges DEM’s denial of a request to publish and seek public comment on a proposed rule the purpose of which is to impose limits on the emission of greenhouse gases. The proposal by Nature’s Trust Rhode Island asserts that the latest science makes it acutely necessary to put in place a complete overhaul of existing greenhouse gas emission rules and policies. Although the hearing was scheduled for today, Judge Melissa Long felt obliged to recuse herself at the last minute. The matter has been reassigned to Judge Melissa Darigan, who will take up this matter next week, Friday, September 6, at 2pm.

Alex Duryea, a 24 year old graduate student at the University of Rhode Island, commented:

The fact that this keeps dragging is just another example of why we need a binding rule in place, not false promises of change. The responsibility of DEM is to protect natural resources. I am impatiently waiting for the DEM to step up and be the environmental leader that they are supposed to be. We are running out of time. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we have less than eleven years to fight this climate crisis before the damage becomes irreversible. We need to start implementing radical changes, fast. We need binding rules in place to hold fossil fuel companies responsible for polluting our environment, perpetuating environmental racism, all while reaping the profits of our suffering and the exploitation of natural resources. I care about the quality of my future and that of future generations, why doesn’t DEM?

Kelly Gorman, a student of Barrington High School said:

Only 45 percent of Americans think that global warming will pose a serious threat in their lifetime, as Gallup Poll found, but the serious threats are already among us and will get worse. According to Live Science, each year 250,000 people die because of climate change, and it’s so frustrating that humans, especially those in power, aren’t doing all they can to help. The government needs to listen to the science and work together with the people before it’s too late.

The original request was filed with DEM a year ago this September 5. Underscoring the observations of the younger generation, Peter Nightingale, president of Nature’s Trust Rhode Island said:

While we are disappointed by the additional delay, we appreciate that the hearing has been promptly rescheduled, and we thank Judge Long for her work to date on the case. The laws of nature give humanity roughly a decade to get its act together. The delay of a year puts the health of present and future generations and our youth plaintiffs seriously at risk.

Peter Nightingale is a theoretical physicist and teaches at the University of Rhode Island. He strives to leave behind a more just, peaceful, and sustainable post-capitalist world for future generations, and for his children and grandchildren in particular.