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Friday, December 4, 2015

Judge rules against 13-year-old climate change activist

Posted by on Fri, Dec 4, 2015 at 1:44 PM

Hallie Turner, the 13-year-old who took North Carolina to court over climate change, has lost her case. - COURTESY OF OUR CHILDREN'S TRUST
  • Courtesy of Our Children's Trust
  • Hallie Turner, the 13-year-old who took North Carolina to court over climate change, has lost her case.

The 13-year-old who took North Carolina to court over climate change has lost her case.

While Superior Court Judge Michael Morgan has yet to hand down his official ruling in Hallie Turner's case, Turner's family tells the Indy that the judge did notify the family that he has ruled in favor of the state. 

Turner, a climate activist since the fourth grade, asked N.C.'s Environmental Management Commission (EMC), a board of appointees that drafts rules for environmental protections, to issue a rule requiring the state to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by at least 4 percent each year. 

"Our government has a responsibility to create a healthy and sustainable environment," Turner told the Indy. "Our leaders haven't been living up to that."

The EMC turned down her petition this year, but Turner and her attorneys argued in their case that the commission's former chair, Raleigh lawyer Benne Hutson, had a conflict of interest and acted outside of his authority when he turned down the teenager's petition. 

Hutson, a partner with McGuireWoods law firm, represents clients who oppose emissions reductions, Turner said. As Turner's legal team—which includes attorneys with Duke University's Environmental Law and Policy Clinic and the Oregon nonprofit, Our Children's Trust—points out, Hutson's legal bio says he "successfully prosecuted a rulemaking petition that for the first time established a groundwater quality standard less stringent than a federal maximum contaminant level."

Turner's mother, Kellie, said that her daughter planned to regroup with her legal team next week to consider the next steps for her state petition. In the meantime, the teenager plans to continue her advocacy, speaking at a Dec. 17 public hearing in Raleigh over the state's Clean Power Plan.

With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requiring states to submit plans for reducing carbon emissions by next summer, leaders in the McCrory administration and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) have been outspoken in opposing the EPA requirements. The DEQ submitted its own plan last month bucking the EPA requirements, the Charlotte Business Journal reported, and appears bound for a public face-off with the federal agency.  

The state public hearing over the proposal is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Dec. 17 at the Archdale Building, located at 512 N. Salisbury St., in Raleigh.

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