By Denise Lavoie
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Virginia judge … dismissed a lawsuit filed on behalf of 13 young people who claim that the state’s permitting of fossil fuel projects is exacerbating climate change and violating their constitutional rights.
The lawsuit filed by Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon-based nonprofit public interest law firm, asked the court to declare portions of the Virginia Gas and Oil Act unconstitutional. It also seeks to find the state’s reliance on and promotion of fossil fuels violates the rights of the plaintiffs.
Attorneys for the state argued that the plaintiffs are attempting to usurp the role of the state legislature and impose their preferred energy and environmental policies on the state.
“Simply put, this action belongs two blocks over at the General Assembly and not before this court,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas Sanford.
Richmond Circuit Court Judge Clarence Jenkins Jr. granted the state’s request to dismiss the lawsuit, finding that the complaint is barred by sovereign immunity. … Jenkins ruled from the bench and dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning it cannot be refiled again in the same court.
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Denise Lavoie is a legal affairs writer for the Associated Press.