Protecting industry, not people

To the editor,

Our Children’s Trust is a group of climate change workers seeking to “elevate the voice of youth to secure the legal right to a stable climate and healthy atmosphere for the benefit of all present and future
generations.” OCT has originated an extraordinary set of lawsuits now making their way through federal court and the courts of nine states, including Colorado.

On Jan. 14, in the case of Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), the Colorado Supreme Court denied the plaintiff’s motion to make the COGCC condition oil and gas development on protecting public health, safety and welfare, and the environment. ( 0152febe0/t/5c3cbbfaaa4a994017464835/1547484155208 /Colorado+Supreme+Court,+Martinez+Decision.pdf

Consider this ruling. It says that citizens’ rights to life, liberty and property are subordinate to industry’s right to pursue profit – no matter what dangers industry creates in the process, such as global ecosystem collapse.

COGCC claims its hands are tied. Here’s the systemic problem: existing environmental laws do not account for the new development of rising carbon levels causing irreparable climate damage. Instead, our laws “balance interests,” overall protecting the “right” of business to use our common, boundary-less atmosphere as a dumping ground for its waste.

We clearly need a legal paradigm shift. Our state Supreme Court’s narrow, lockstep ruling does not protect us citizens but rather protects indefinite carbon release by industry, no matter how harmful to our Earth – or to future life on it.

– Miriam Barton, Durango