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KUOW's environment beat brings you stories on the ongoing cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, alternative energy, the health of the Puget Sound, coal transportation and more. We're also partnered with several stations across the Northwest to bring you environmental news via EarthFix.

Judge dismisses kids' lawsuit seeking to protect the climate they'll inherit

A judge in Seattle has dismissed a lawsuit from a group of children seeking to protect their generation from climate change.

The kids' lawsuit said Washington state's efforts to reduce carbon emissions are "grossly inadequate" if their generation is to have a bearable climate to live in.

The group of 13 youths, represented by Our Children’s Trust, asked the court to come up with a plan to nearly eliminate emissions statewide by mid-century.

Washington state now aims only to cut emissions about half that fast—50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050—and it's not on track to meet even that goal.

Business groups and legislators have blocked more aggressive efforts to fight climate change, including regulations proposed by Gov. Jay Inslee and a carbon-tax ballot initiative that voters rejected in 2016.

King County Superior Court Judge Michael Scott agreed that climate change is an urgent and devastating problem.

But he ruled that tackling it is a job for the political branches of government, not the courts.

He urged the youths who sued the state to keep pushing for an economy that doesn't wreck the climate.

“They can be advocates, urging the legislature and the executive to enact and implement policies that will promote decarbonization and decrease greenhouse gas emissions,” Scott wrote.

The young plaintiffs could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

“I haven’t been able to leave the house without my inhaler this week because wildfire smoke has settled in Seattle,” a press release from Our Children’s Trust quoted 17-year-old plaintiff Wren Wagenbach of Seattle as saying. “This is not the environment I believe any American deserves. What American youth deserve is to have their futures protected in our courts of law.”

Washington Department of Ecology spokesperson Andrew Wineke said the state agrees that it needs to do more to keep heat-trapping carbon dioxide out of the air.

"We wanted these kids to know that we haven't given up on finding more aggressive ways to fight carbon pollution, and we hope they don't give up either."

Our Children’s Trust, which has filed similar suits in eight other states, said it would appeal the ruling.

Year started with KUOW: 2009