Merkley, Colleagues Urge Biden Administration to Work With Young Americans on Climate Action

Merkley, Colleagues Urge Biden Administration to Work With Young Americans on Climate Action

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley is leading a group of his Senate colleagues in urging the Biden administration to work with young Americans to make progress on climate action. Merkley was joined by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Alex Padilla (D-CA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

Earlier this year, a federal court ordered the government to enter settlement discussions with the plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States, a court case led by young Americans whose future is being threatened by unchecked climate chaos. The senators urged the Biden administration to work with the youth and explore all available options to make progress on averting climate catastrophe.

“We write to highlight an opportunity for the federal government to align itself with your expressed commitment to address climate change on behalf of our youngest citizens and future generations,” the senators wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden. “Given your stated goals and executive orders addressing the climate crisis and issues of environmental injustice, we believe that the policy decisions being made by all U.S. agencies should be in line with those goals and policy commitments.”

“At the Leaders’ Summit on Climate, you committed to ‘confront the climate crisis, to build a better world for all of our children and grandchildren,’” they continued. “Upholding that commitment is of the utmost importance. We urge you to carefully review any appropriate programmatic and executive options that you have available across your Administration to make progress, and thus further your commitment to ‘listen to science—and act,’ by using a ‘Government-wide approach’ to tackling the climate crisis.”

The senators were joined by a group of House members, led by Congressman Mondaire Jones (D-NY-17), who also sent a letter in support of the Juliana plaintiffs today.

On Earth Day this year, Merkley introduced a resolution to protect the fundamental rights of the nation’s children to be protected from the threat of unchecked climate chaos. In 2019 and 2020, Merkley and other members of the Oregon delegation—U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, Congressman Peter DeFazio, and Congressman Earl Blumenauer—filed amicus briefs with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals supporting the Juliana plaintiffs. Kelsey Juliana—the named plaintiff in the case—is from Oregon, as are 10 of the other plaintiffs.

The full text of the senators’ letter is available here and follows below.

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Dear President Biden, 

We write to highlight an opportunity for the federal government to align itself with your expressed commitment to address climate change on behalf of our youngest citizens and future generations. Given your stated goals and executive orders addressing the climate crisis and issues of environmental injustice, we believe that the policy decisions being made by all U.S. agencies should be in line with those goals and policy commitments.

Young people across our nation are seeking environmental and climate justice. The fundamental right to a safe climate system has been advocated by the litigants in Juliana v. United States. In 2015, a diverse group including Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth filed this constitutional climate change lawsuit against the Executive Branch of the U.S. government for its affirmative actions that they believe have caused the climate crisis and violate the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, property, and equal protection of the laws. In 2016, the federal district court issued a significant decision recognizing the fundamental “right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life.” Earlier this year, the court recognized that all three branches of government need to work together to address the climate crisis and ordered the parties to engage in settlement discussions.

At the Leaders’ Summit on Climate, you committed to “confront the climate crisis, to build a better world for all of our children and grandchildren.” Upholding that commitment is of the utmost importance. We urge you to carefully review any appropriate programmatic and executive options that you have available across your Administration to make progress, and thus further your commitment to “listen to science—and act,” by using a “Government-wide approach” to tackling the climate crisis.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to working with you to ensure the constitutional rights to life, liberty, property, and equal protection of the laws are protected for all young people, and for generations to come.

Sincerely,