Disagreeing with a judge overseeing a similar case in Oregon, Philadelphia judge ruled the Constitution does not guarantee a due process right to a "life-sustaining climate system"
By Jonathan Stempel
Feb 20 (Reuters) - A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by two Pennsylvania boys and an environmental group seeking to stop U.S. President Donald Trump from rolling back regulations addressing climate change, saying the court does not have power to tell the White House what to do.
Disagreeing with a judge overseeing a similar case in Oregon, U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond in Philadelphia ruled on Tuesday that the Constitution does not guarantee what the boys and the Clean Air Council called a due process right to a "life-sustaining climate system."
Diamond also said the boys, who were 7 and 11 when the lawsuit was filed in November 2017, could not trace their respective severe allergies and asthma to White House policies.
He said this meant the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue Trump, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and other defendants who had moved to dismiss the case.
"Plaintiffs' disagreement with defendants is a policy debate best left to the political process," wrote Diamond, an appointee of President George W. Bush. "Because I have neither the authority nor the inclination to assume control of the Executive Branch, I will grant defendants' motion."
Joseph Minott, executive director of the Clean Air Council, said the plaintiffs will review their options as the White House's "deliberate indifference" to climate change increases "the frequency and intensity of its life-threatening effects."
The U.S. Department of Justice did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Trump has long cast doubt on the science of climate change.
He has announced his intention to withdraw the United States from a two-year-old global agreement to combat climate change, and a proposal to overhaul former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan with new rules that would ease pollution controls.
In November, Trump rejected findings in a congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment, which said climate change could reduce U.S. gross domestic product more than 10 percent by the end of this century. (https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/downloads/NCA4_2018_FullReport.pdf)
The Eugene, Oregon case was brought by 21 children and young adults also challenging government policies affecting climate change.
Diamond accused U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken, the appointee of President Bill Clinton overseeing that case, of contravening or ignoring "longstanding authority" by finding a due process right to "a climate system capable of sustaining human life."
The case is Clean Air Council et al v U.S. et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, No. 17-04977. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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