The Animal Legal Defense Fund sued Monday to force the U.S. government to target climate change, coming days after a similar lawsuit filed by young activists was temporarily put on hold by the Supreme Court.
Those who joined the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Oregon include scientists, nature enthusiasts and wildlife advocates who say they fear for their safety as wildfires, mudslides and other threats grow more severe, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported .
They say they have a fundamental right to be left alone “free from human interference” in the wilderness and they want a federal judge to declare that the federal government is violating that right by contributing to a dangerous concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Animal Defense Fund member and plaintiff Michael Goetz of Portland said that on a recent backpacking trip, wildfire smoke was so intense that couldn’t see his hand in front of his face, according to the lawsuit.
Outdoor adventure athlete Will Gadd also joined the lawsuit, which said he has witnessed melting ice and glaciers while climbing in conditions that are much more dangerous now than they were years ago when he first began climbing.
“Will is harmed by the government’s actions and inactions to stem the severity of climate change because he is prevented from reasonably and safely exercising his right to wilderness on which he relies for his physical and mental well-being as well as his global status as an outdoor adventurer and educator,” the suit says.
The lawsuit names the U.S. Departments of Interior, Agriculture and Defense; the Environmental Protection Agency; and other agencies.
An Interior spokeswoman said in an email to contact the Justice Department. Their Environment and Natural Resources Division didn’t immediately respond to an email.
The new challenge comes days after the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked a high-profile climate change lawsuit that young activists brought against the federal government.
The lawsuit filed in 2015 in Eugene argues that government officials have known for more than 50 years that carbon pollution from fossil fuels was causing climate change and that policies on oil and gas deprive the young people of life, liberty and property.
The 21 young people issued a response Monday to the high court, saying the case poses important constitutional questions that should be evaluated at a trial that had been set to start next week.
The new lawsuit takes a different approach, said Carter Dillard, senior policy adviser for the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
While the young people’s case focuses on constitutional rights to life, liberty and property and protection of public resources, the one filed Monday focuses on “the simple right to be let alone, the right long recognized and protected under banners like privacy and liberty,” Dillard told the newspaper in an email.