ST. PETER, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota college student is among 21 youth plaintiffs in a lawsuit that accuses the federal government of destabilizing the climate system for present and future generations.

Nathan Baring is an environmental student activist on the Gustavus Adolphus College campus in St. Peter. At age 15, he joined the lawsuit that was filed during former President Barack Obama’s administration.

Baring told Minnesota Public Radio News that he saw the lawsuit as a channel to speak out about climate change when he wasn’t even eligible to vote.

The suit argues that the federal government has violated and continues to violate constitutional rights by failing to “preserve a habitable climate system.” It accuses the government of errors of action and omission, including continuing to burn fossil fuels despite knowing that carbon dioxide pollution from doing so “was causing global warning and dangerous climate change.”

The lawsuit alleges the government “knew the harmful impacts of their actions would significantly endanger plaintiffs, with the damage persisting for millennia.”

The youth plaintiffs’ lawyers at climate nonprofit Our Children’s Trust will face President Donald Trump’s administration in court.

The nonprofit’s lawyer plans to seek an injunction while the lawsuit is ongoing to prevent the U.S. from “issuing leases and mining permits for extracting coal on federal public lands, leases for offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction activities, and federal approvals for new fossil fuel infrastructure.”

Baring said the case and others like it are helping drive change.

“To have judge state publicly on the record that a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental, it already gives us some awesome groundwork that we can build on,” he said. “It’s cool that the U.S. legal system is responding.”

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon, will hear oral arguments in the case on Tuesday.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News,

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