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Florida Youths' Climate Case Against State Dismissed, Appeal Planned

Eight Florida youths standing together on a beach.
Robin Loznak
Our Children's Trust
Levi Draheim, 12, of Brevard County is front and center.

A group of young people from Florida had their lawsuit against the state over climate change dismissed by a circuit judge in Leon County on Monday, and the kids plan to appeal.

The eight young Floridians argue that the state and governor are violating their constitutional rights by contributing to climate change.

Levi Draheim, 12, of Brevard County is one of the plaintiffs.

“We should never have gotten to this point. We should have had climate change taken care of,” he said. “The youth shouldn't be having to take action like this to protect their future. We shouldn't literally be fighting for our lives.”

Judge Kevin Carroll with the second judicial circuit of Florida said that the youths’ counsel “made a compelling argument” but said the court was being asked to solve a political question. So he dismissed the case. 

“It was pretty upsetting yesterday," Draheim said the day after the decision. "I didn't sleep last night. I had so much going through my head. There shouldn't be any question as to whether or not we have a right to a stable climate system.”

Andrea Rodgers, senior litigation attorney with Our Children’s Trust, said they're not asking the court to set climate policy.

“What we're asking the court to do is to review the government's conduct, determine whether it's constitutional, and then ask the government or order the government to fix it and bring it into constitutional compliance,” she said.

The group plans to take this case to Florida's First District Court of Appeals.

Rodgers said it's unfortunate that the decision will cause additional delay on climate action.

"Unfortunately, we don't have that time. Florida particularly doesn't have the time for delay,” she said, referencing a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that forecast an above-normal hurricane season for 2020.

Levi Draheim’s mom is pregnant with his first sibling. He said he doesn’t want his new brother or sister to have the same hurricane experiences he’s been through.

“Hurricanes are such a scary thing because you don't know if once you evacuate your house, if you are even going to have a home to come back to,” he said. “I don't want my younger sibling to have to go through that.”

Since 2012, I’ve been a voice on public radio stations across Florida - in Miami, Fort Myers, and now Tampa.
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