The federal government is again asking a judge to suspend proceedings in a climate case that is scheduled to go to trial in Eugene on Oct. 29.
Government attorneys filed a motion Friday in U.S. District Court in Eugene requesting a stay pending Supreme Court review of the case, which is brought by 21 young people with the support of Eugene nonprofit group Our Children’s Trust.
The government repeatedly has tried to get the case dismissed. In a news release, Julia Olson, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, called the government’s latest request a “redundant motion” and “a show of fear.”
In the motion filed Friday, the government asserts it is likely the Supreme Court will call for the case’s dismissal, and that it would be “irreparably harmed” if the request for stay is not granted.
“A brief stay to allow the Supreme Court to consider whether a lawsuit is the appropriate means to address climate change will not appreciably harm plaintiffs,” the motion states.
But if a judge at the district court level does not agree to halt proceedings, the government plans to ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay sometime this week, according to the motion.
The group of youths — six of whom are from Eugene — first filed a federal lawsuit in 2015, asserting the government has created a national energy system that causes climate change, in violation of their constitutional rights. They say the government has known about the dangers of climate change for decades but nonetheless promotes fossil fuel production while also failing to protect the nation’s natural resources.
The suit seeks a court order requiring the government to make a plan that works to drastically and quickly reduce carbon dioxide emissions that climate scientists say cause global warming.
Although the government has repeatedly sought to get the case thrown out — arguing, among other points, that climate policy should not be decided by the courts — one of its lawyers said at a previous hearing that the government recognizes climate change is a serious, man-made problem.
Both the 9th Circuit and the Supreme Court declined in July to intervene in the case, after reviewing government requests to do so.