“Our Children’s Trust: Youth Activism & the Legal Right to a Stable Climate” (Feb. 6)

Published: January 22nd, 2019

Category: Featured, News

Isaac Augspurg (age 13) and Oscar Psychas (age 20) are two of eight youth plaintiffs suing the state of Florida to protect current and future generations from the intensifying impacts of climate change. 

Join us for a conversation with youth activists and legal and climate science experts to discuss this effort to defend the rights of all Floridians to a stable climate, featuring:

Isaac Augspurg & Oscar Psychas

Guy M. Burns, Managing Partner, Johnson Pope Bokor Ruppel and Burns, LLP

Andrea Dutton, Assoc. Professor of Geology, University of Florida

Andrea Rodgers, Senior Staff Attorney, Our Children’s Trust


Wednesday, February 6, 6–8 PM

Ocora (Main Room), Pugh Hall

University of Florida

Event is free and open to the public. No advance registration is required.


Isaac Augspurg, Oscar Psychas, and Andrea Dutton
respond to an audience member’s question.

Streaming video of the event can be viewed from the ICC Films page.

About the Lawsuit

Since 2011, the nonprofit organization Our Children’s Trust has supported youth around the United States in bringing legal action in the courts and state administrative agencies to advance science-based climate recovery action at the state and federal levels. Depending on the circumstances of each state, either a lawsuit was filed in court, or a petition for administrative rule making was brought before the appropriate state agency. These actions were variously addressed by the courts and agencies, and are now in resulting phases of development.

On April 18, 2018 eight Florida youth, including well-known climate activists Delaney Reynolds and Levi Draheim, filed a constitutional climate lawsuit against the state of Florida, Governor Rick Scott, and several state agencies in Leon County Court. The complaint asserts that in causing climate change, the state of Florida has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness, and has caused harm to Florida’s essential public trust resources, such as beaches and marine life.

The youth plaintiffs filed the case, Reynolds v. State of Florida, because the state of Florida is violating their constitutional rights by creating and perpetuating an energy system that is based on fossil fuels. The plaintiffs are asking the state of Florida to adhere to its legal and moral obligation to protect current and future generations from the intensifying impacts of climate change.

On July 6, 2018, the State of Florida filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. On September 17, 2018, attorneys for the plaintiffs filed their response.

On December 26, 2018, youth plaintiffs filed their amended complaint against the state of Florida, Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis and several state agencies in Leon County Court. The youth plaintiffs updated their complaint to account for the fact that there will be two new defendants in the case starting in January 2019: Governor-Elect DeSantis and Commissioner-Elect Nikki Fried. The amended complaint also includes the alarming new scientific information recently released by the Trump administration in its Fourth National Climate Assessment.


About the Speakers

Isaac Augspurg is a middle school student at Trilogy School, Gainesville, FL. He lives on a 20 acre homestead outside of Gainesville where he and his family grow much of their food and raise dairy goats, chickens, pigs, and turkeys. He is a passionate advocate of gardening and sustainable agriculture and enjoys the region’s local springs and beaches. Isaac has been involved in environmental activism since the age of 10.

 

Oscar Psychas is a sophomore Environmental Studies and Geography major at Middlebury College. Oscar is passionate about connecting youth with wild Florida and empowering them take leadership on environmental issues such as habitat loss and climate change that will affect young people’s future the most. In 2017 Oscar walked 280 miles from his family home in Gainesville to Tallahassee to bring attention to the need for more effective and lasting land conservation in the State of Florida. Oscar also leads “Young Leaders for Wild Florida,” an Alachua Conservation Trust summer program to empower teens to become Florida’s next generation of environmental leaders.

Guy M. Burns is Managing Partner of Johnson Pope Bokor Ruppel and Burns, LLP. He has over 40 years of trial experience with over 100 trials in State and Federal Courts, as well as dozens of trials conducted before arbitration panels. He has represented plaintiffs on a pro bono basis in numerous public interest cases in both State and Federal Courts, arising out of discrimination based upon race, gender and sexual orientation, and in litigating constitutional claims relating to education and public housing. He is the lead attorney in a lawsuit brought by youth plaintiffs against the State of Florida, seeking changes to state environmental policies to address effects of climate change.

Andrea Dutton is Associate Professor of Geology in the UF Department of Geological Sciences. Her research focuses on sea level reconstruction over glacial-interglacial timescales with an emphasis on establishing the behavior of sea level and ice sheets during interglacial periods to better predict future sea-level rise.

 

 

Andrea Rodgers is Senior Staff Attorney for Our Children’s Trust, a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to elevating the voice of youth to secure the legal right to a stable climate and healthy atmosphere. She has served as an Honors Attorney for the U.S. Department of Transportation, In-House Legal Counsel for the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, and Staff Attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center. Her environmental law practice focuses on reducing pollution from industrial agricultural operations, protecting and enhancing instream flows for people and fish, and fighting climate change on behalf of young people and future generations.


Location of Event & Parking

Pugh Hall (296 Buckman Drive, Gainesville, FL 32611) is centrally located on the UF campus. The most convenient parking for this event is at the O’Connell Center parking lot (250 Gale Lemerand Drive, Gainesville, FL 32611), where parking is free after 3:30 PM, Monday through Friday.


For more information, contact Terry Harpold (tharpold@ufl.edu) or Andrea Medina (andream@ufl.edu).

“Our Children’s Trust: Youth Activism and the Legal Right to a Stable Climate” poster by Madeline Gangnes

 

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