Youths challenge climate change at San Francisco's 9th Circuit Court

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Some 21 teens and young adults are challenging the U.S. government over climate change. If successful, the case could force the government to develop a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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But the Trump administration is fighting hard to stop them asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss the case.

Eighteen of the 21 young plaintiffs were cheered by supporters Monday outside the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Their main argument is and has always been that the U.S. Government has failed to protect them from climate change.

"Because our government has done nothing, we are suing the government, we are forcing them into action," said 13-year-old Hazel V. from Eugene, Oregon.

Julia Olson is their attorney.

"So this is many administrations building a fossil fuel energy system that they knew would be catastrophic for the future, " said Olson during the rally.

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Kelsey Juliana, now 21 years old, is one of the plaintiffs, in the Juliana vs. The United States, a lawsuit filed in 2015 that was supposed to be heard by the U.S. District Court in Oregon. But in 2016, that court was asked by the government to dismiss the case. The court refused. The Trump administration then quickly appealed to the 9th Circuit.

Today both sides were heard by the three-judge panel. The hearing was streamed live.

Eric Grant for the government argued that Congress and the Executive Branch should be left alone to address the issue of climate change.

"The subject of this petition is litigation that is distracting the executive branch from the discharge of its consitutional duties," Assitant Deputy Attorney General, Grant told the panel.

Given its past history, it seems unlikely the 9th Circuit court will favor the Trump administration's requests, allowing the case to be played out in the District Court in Oregon.

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