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  • Depleted wetlands are seen in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, Aug. 25, 2015.

    Depleted wetlands are seen in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, Aug. 25, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 April 2016

A Federal Judge in Oregon ruled that a lawsuit brought by 21 teens against the federal government can go to trial. 

An Oregon Federal Judge ruled on Friday in favor youth who argue that the U.S. government is failing to protect them from the harmful impacts of climate change. 

U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin in Eugene rejected a motion by the federal government’s attorneys to dismiss the case, ruling that, “government action and inaction on climate change, threatens catastrophic consequences which have already begun and will progressively worsen in the near future.”

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The court’s decision, represents a major victory for the legal claims put forward by a group of 21 youth Plaintiffs, ages 8-19, whom argue that the federal government is legally bound to protect essential natural resources, such as air and oceans, for the benefit of all present and future generations.

The plaintiffs are requesting the U.S. District Court of Oregon to order the government to "swiftly phase down carbon dioxide emissions" so that atmospheric CO2 concentrations "are no more than 350 parts per million by 2100."

“The future of our generation is at stake,” said 16-year-old plaintiff Victoria Barrett. 

“I absolutely refuse to let our government’s harmful action, corporate greed, and the pure denial of climate science get in the way of that,” Barrett added.  

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The decision marks a key point in the federal lawsuit, which will now be sent to a U.S. District Court judge to decide whether the lawsuit will proceed to trial.

“This decision is one of the most significant in our nation’s history. Judge Coffin decided our Complaint will move forward and put climate science squarely in front of the federal courts.” Plaintiffs’ attorney Philip Gregory with Cotchett, Pitre, & McCarthy of Burlingame, CA, said following the ruling.   

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