Juliana, et al v United States of America, et al
ORDER: Granting Motion to Intervene 14 . Signed on 1/14/2016 by Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Coffin. (plb)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF OREGON
KELSEY CASCADE ROSE JULIANA; et al.,
The UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; et al.,
COFFIN, Magistrate Judge:
Plaintiffs include a group of younger individuals (aged 8-19) who asse1i harm from carbon
pollution because of government action and/or inaction allegedly resulting in climate destabilization
and ocean acidification. Also among the plaintiffs are associations of activists who asse1i they are
beneficiaries of the federal public trust harmed by allegedly substantial impainnent and alienation
of their public trust resources through ongoing actions to allow fossil fuel exploitation.
Plaintiffs are suing the United States and various government officials and agencies because,
they asse1i, the government has known for decades that carbon dioxide (CO,) pollution has been
causing catastrophic climate change and has failed to take necessary action to cmiail fossil fuel
emissions. Moreover, plaintiffs allege, that the government and its agencies have taken action or
failed to take action that has resulted in increased carbon pollution through fossil fuel extraction,
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production, consumption, transportation, and exportation. Plaintiffs asse1i that a reduction of global
CO, concentrations to less than 350 pmis per million is possible, but action must be taken
immediately to prevent further ocean acidification and ocean wmming. Plaintiffs allege that the
current actions and omissions of defendants make it extremely difficult for plaintiffs to protect their
vital natural systems and a livable world. Consequently, plaintiffs seek immediate action to restore
energy balance and implementation of a plan to put the nation on a trajectory (that if adhered to by
other major emitters) will reduce atmospheric CO, concentrations to no more than 350 patis per
million by 2100.
Plaintiffs assert that the actions and omissions of defendants that increased CO, emissions
"shock the conscience," and are infringing the plaintiffs' right to life and liberty in violation of their
substantive due process rights.
Plaintiffs also allege defendants have violated plaintiffs equal
protection rights embedded in the Fifth Amendment by denying them protections afforded to
previous generations and by favoring short term economic interests of certain citizens. Plaintiffs
fmiher allege that defendants' acts and omissions violate the implicit right, via the Ninth
Amendment, to a stable climate and an ocean and atmosphere free from dangerous levels of CO,.
Finally, plaintiffs allege that defendants have violated the public trust doctrine, secured by the Ninth
Amendment, by denying future generations essential natural resources.
Through this action, plaintiffs ask the comi to:
Declare that Defendants have violated and are violating Plaintiffs'
fundamental constitutional rights to life, liberty, and prnpe1iy by substantially causing
or contributing to a dangerous concentration of C02 in the atmosphere, and that, in
so doing, Defendants dangerously interfere with a stable climate system required by
our nation and Plaintiffs alike;
Enjoin Defendants from fu1iherviolations of the Constitution underlying each
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claim for relief;
Declare the Energy Policy Act, Section 201, to be unconstitutional on its face;
Declare DOE/FE Order No. 3041, granting long-te1m multi-contract
authorization to Jordan Cove Energy for LNG exports from its Coos Bay te1minal,
to be unconstitutional as applied and set it aside;
Declare Defendants' public trust violations and enjoin Defendants from
violating the public trust doctrine underlying each claim for relief;
Order Defendants to prepare a consumption-based invento1y of U.S. CO, emissions;
Order Defendants to prepare and implement an enforceable national remedial
plan to phase out fossil fuel emissions and draw down excess atmospheric C02 so as
to stabilize the climate system and protect the vital resources on which Plaintiffs now
and in the future will depend ...
First Amended Complaint (#7) at p. 94.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the American Fuel & Petrochemical
Manufacturers (AFPM), and the American Petroleum Institute (API) move to intervene in this
NAM represents manufacturers in every industrial sector across the country. Its members
include leaders of the coal industry, oil industry, natural gas industry, petroleum producers, and
petrochemical refiners. NAlvf manufacturer members rely heavily on the availability of energy with
C0 2 as a byproduct.
AFPM includes refiners and petrochemical manufactures as members who rely on
conventional energy sources to supply their product and whose product itself emits C02 .
API's members are leaders of the oil and gas industries which industries are emitters ofC0 2•
Proposed intervenors asse1i that the relief requested by plaintiffs will directly affect not only
their members' business interest, but the business itself. Proposed intervenors contend that tlu·ough
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this action, plaintiffs in essence seek to force the federal government to eventually shut them down
altogether. At the least, the proposed intervenors' members would have to substantially overhaul
their business and business models to survive in the event plaintiffs prevail. Because of the drastic
relief sought, allegedly necessary to protect plaintiffs' constitutional rights, including the coinplete
phase out of the very core of proposed intervenors' businesses (production and use of fossil fuels),
proposed intervenors seek to intervene in all phases of litigation asserting that once liability is
established, the harm to their interests will be complete.
Intervention as of Right
The court must permit intervention on the part of movants if they claim
an interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action, and
is so situated that disposing of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede
the movant's ability to protect its interest, unless existing parties adequately represent
Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2).
Courts apply a four-part test to determine whether movants may intervene as of right:
(1) the motion must be timely; (2) the applicant must claim a "significantly
protectable" interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the
action; (3) the applicant must be so situated that the disposition of the action may as
a practical matter impair or impede its ability to protect that interest; and (4) the
applicant's interest must be inadequately represented by the parties to the action.
Wilderness Society v. United States Forest Service, 630 F.3d 1173, 1177 (9th Cir. 2011). Courts
generally construe Rule 24 broadly in favor of intervention. United States ex rel. McGough v.
Covington Techs. Co., 967 F.2d 1391, 1394 (9th Cir. 1992).
Plaintiffs concede the motion is timely.
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However, plaintiffs argue that the proposed
intervenors do not meet the other three requirements for intervention as of right.
Significantly Protectable Interest
The proposed intervenors' asse1ied interest need not be protected by the federal provisions
under which the litigation is brought to qualify as "significantly protectable". Wilderness Society,
630 F.3d at 1179. All that is required is that the interest is protectable under some law, and that there
is a relationship between the legally protected interest and the claims at issue. Id. However, an
interest that is remote from the subject matter of the proceeding, or that is contingent upon the
occurrence of a sequence of events before it becomes colorable, will not satisfy the rule. Washington
Elec. Co-op, Inc. v. Massachusetts Mun. Wholesale Elec. Co., 922 F.2d 92, 97 (9th Cir. 1990).
Plaintiffs asse1i that the proposed intervenors have no direct interest in whether the federal
government is violating their alleged constitutional rights via its policies regarding CO, emissions
and alleged ocean and atmospheric degradation. Plaintiffs argue that there is no showing that the
resolution of their claims actually will affect them beyond speculation. Plaintiffs contend that the
proposed intervenors can protect their interests in the future (atler these proceedings) by simply
engaging in the administrative rule-making process implementing the sought after relief directing
defendants to prepare and implement an enforceable national remedial plan to phase out fossil fuel
emissions and draw down excessive atmospheric CO,. The argument appears to be nothing more
than the rule, no longer followed in the Ninth Circuit, that proposed private intervenors in NEPA
cases could only participate in the remedial phase and not the liability phase. See Wilderness
Society, 630 F.3d 1173, 1176, 1178-1180.
Moreover, to suggest that, for example, setting aside the long-term multi-contract
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authorization to Jordan Cove Energy for liquified natural gas exports authorized by the DOE/FE
order No. 3041 or that requiring defendants to phase out fossil .foe! emissions has no direct impact
on the fossil fuel industries themselves is counterintuitive. Such relief would, at a minimum, change
the very nature of businesses engaged in by members of the proposed intervenors and substantially
alter the various property and contractual rights, if not outright eliminate the businesses altogether. 1
Assuming that plaintiffs are conect in that the defendants are liable for constitutional violations
based on policies favoring economic interests related to fossil fuel emissions, participation in the
remedy only would prohibit the proposed intervenors from arguing that alleged harm from CO,
emissions does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation and their business model would be
forever changed as a result. Lobbying the agencies in charge of implementing any comi directives
addressing the constitutional harm will not adequately permit the proposed intervenors to protect
their interests. Because this action will directly change the nature of many of the members' business
or how they carry out their business, the proposed intervenors have a protectable interest. See, e.g.,
Siena Club v. United States E.P.A., 995 F.2d 1478, 1483 (9th Cir. 1993) (abrogated on other
grounds by Wilderness Society, 630 F.3d 1173) (suit affecting the use of real property owned by the
intervenors by requiring the defendant to change the terms of pe1mits it issues to the would-be
intervenors, which permits regulate the use of that real property, raises interests that are squarely in
the class of interests traditionally protected by law).
'Plaintiffs also assert that the alleged protectable interests asserted by the proposed
intervenors is not supported by qualified expe1i testimony. At this stage of the proceedings, the
court is not going to engage in a mini-trial to determine the rights of proposed paiiies. The issue
here is only whether the proposed intervenors claim such an interest. In addition, given that
plaintiffs seek to eliminate, in essence, the very product of many of the intervenors, the comi
need not resort to the aid of experts to dete1mine whether the interests are protectable or whether
those interests may be impaired by this litigation. ·
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Impairing or Impeding the Protectable Interest
As noted above, the very nature of this action is a direct attack on the alleged priorities the
defendants place on the fossil fuel industry to the detriment of the health and welfare of cunent and
future generations. Plaintiffs seek to phase out fossil fuel emissions. Proposed intervenors produce
and/or rely on those fossil fuels. There is no question that the interests of proposed intervenors
would be impaired through court mandated regulation that has the goal of eliminating emissions
altogether. Perhaps proposed intervenors could discover technologies that allow the continued use
of fossil fuels with dramatically reduced emissions or could convert to production and use of green
fuels in order to maintain viable business operations into the future in the event plaintiffs' are
successful. But proposed intervenors presence is necessary to folly and fairly put those issue before
the court in these proceedings. See, e.g., Fund for Animals, Inc. v. Norton, 322 F.3d 728, 735
(D .C. Cir. 2003) (looking to practical consequences of action, loss of revenues and market share to
address the outcome, etc.).
Plaintiffs take the position that the government is essentially pro-fossil fuel industry, thus its
interests and the interests ofthe proposed intervenors are in alignment. Accordingly, plaintiffs argue
that the defendants will adequately represent the interests of the proposed intervenors. However, the
defendants interests are much broader and Rule 24 only requires that the court consider whether the
interest of the government defendants are such that they will undoubtedly make all of intervenors'
See Fresno County v. Andrus, 622 F.3d 436, 439 (9th Cir. 1980) (adequate
representation if the· interests of a present party are such that it will undoubtedly make all of the
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intervenors's arguments; (2) the present party is capable of and willing to make such arguments; and
(3) the intervenors would not offer any necessary element to the proceedings that the other parties
The government is required to represent the broad interest of the public as a whole, not just
the economic interests of the fossil fuel industry.
Therefore, defendants are an inadequate
representative. Cf. Siena Club v. Espy. 18 F3d. 1202, 1208 (9th Cir. 1994) (Government could not
adequately represent the apparently aligned interests of the forest industry in environmental
challenge suit given its broader interests).
Courts, in inte1preting Rule 24, are guided primarily by practical and equitable
considerations. Donnelly v. Glickman, 159 F.3d 405, 409 (9th Cir. 1998). And, as noted above,
the rule broadly favors intervention. United States ex rel. McGough v. Covington Techs. Co., 967
F.2d at 1394. A liberal policy in favor of intervention serves both efficient resolution of issues and
broadened access to the cou1is. By allowing parties with a practical interest in the outcome of a
pmiicular case to intervene, courts can prevent or simplify future litigation involving related issues;
at the same time, courts can allow an additional interested party to express its views. Forest
Conservation Council v. U.S. Forest Serv., 66 F.3d 1489, 1496 n. 8 (9th Cir. 1995).
Plaintiffs allege that defendants have a long history of deliberately discriminating against
children and future generations in exe1iing authority over our nation's fossil fuel resources for the
economic benefit of present generations of adults. First Amended Complaint (#7) at
Plaintiffs further allege that defendants have a de facto policy to favor influential and entrenched
fossil fuel energy interests (and corporations) to the long-term detriment of plaintiffs. Id.
301. In essence, plaintiffs argue they have superior constitutional rights that trump the economic
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interest of the proposed intervenors. Equity demands that members of the proposed intervenors
whose property interests are alleged to be in direct conflict to plaintiffs' life, liberty, and property
interests have a say in this litigation. At a minimum, such intervention will simplify future litigation
as defendants endeavor to resolve this complex confluence of economic and property interests of the
populace on the one hand and the health interests of cunent and future generations on the other.
The motion to intervene as of right is granted.
Restrictions on Intervention
Plaintiffs suggest that ifintervention is granted, thatthe comi should limit intervention to the
remedial phase, preclude discovery, limit briefing to no more than 25 pages, and require briefing to
follow the government's brief so as not to duplicate arguments. As noted above, restriction to the
remedial phase is inadequate for the proposed intervenors to adequately protect their interests. Given
the breadth of the complaint it is unclear if 25 page limits are appropriate.2 The contours of
discovery are difficult to determine in a novel case such as this that sits 'somewhere between a civil
rights action and NEPA/Clean Air Act/Clean Water Act suit. Should the complaint survive the
motions to dismiss, the court will hold a Rule 16 conference to address how discovery will be
conducted and other case management issues.
For the reasons stated above, the motion to intervene(# 14) filed by The National Association
'Indeed, plaintiffs have requested and received pe1mission to file an over-length brief in
opposition to the government's motion to dismiss.
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ofManufacturers, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, and the American Petroleum
Institute is granted .
Jj_ day of January 2016.
United States J\; agistrate Judge
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