United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael J. McShane United States District Judge
are two nonprofit organizations and six individuals who claim
that climate change-and the government's failure to
protect them from the effects of climate change-has violated
their constitutional right to a safe and sustainable
environment. See Pl.'s First Am. Compl. for
Declaratory and Inj. Relief 2 and 6, ECF No. 28
(“FAC”). Plaintiffs urge this Court to engage in
“nothing short of revolutionary thinking” by
recognizing “a right to wilderness” under the
First, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Pl.'s
Resp. 2 and 58-71, ECF No. 72. Plaintiffs further ask that
the Court order government actors to adopt certain policies
in order to combat climate change. FAC 71-73.
are the United States of America, as well as several federal
agencies and their respective administrators, who move to
dismiss Plaintiffs' claims pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Defs.' Mot. i, ECF No.
Defendants urge the Court to restrain itself from dictating
environmental policy by creating a “right to
wilderness” and argue that Plaintiffs lack standing to
bring such broad claims. Id. at 7-43. In the
alternative, Defendants move the Court to stay this case
pending the Ninth Circuit's resolution of the pending
appeal in Juliana v. United States, No.
6:15-cv-1517-AA, 2018 WL 6303774 (D. Or. Nov. 21, 2018),
appeal docketed, No. 18-36082 (9th Cir. Dec. 27,
2018). Id. at 43-45.
the harm Plaintiffs seek to redress is a diffuse, global
phenomenon that affects every citizen of the world,
Plaintiffs' harm is not individualized and they lack
standing. Additionally, the lower courts-bound by rule of
law-are not the forum for the “revolutionary”
thinking that Plaintiffs articulately espouse in their
briefing. Indeed, this Court has previously declined
invitations to create new fundamental rights that are not
enumerated in the constitution or found in Supreme Court
precedent. See, e.g., Geiger v. Kitzhaber,
994 F.Supp.2d 1128, 1140- 41 (D. Or. May 19, 2014) (declining
to recognize a fundamental right to same sex marriage,
instead ruling on equal protection grounds). I continue to do
so here. Because there exists no clearly established
“right to wilderness, ” Plaintiffs have failed to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Plaintiffs lack standing and fail to state a claim,
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 66, is GRANTED.
claims arise from their “fear for their own and
others' physical and mental wellbeing as a result of
climate change-related impacts on federally-owned and managed
public lands.” Id. at 4-5. According to
Plaintiffs, climate change is causing “increased
frequency and severity of rockslides, avalanches, flash
flooding, and wildfires, as well as reduction in stream water
flow, snow pack, and native edible plants.” FAC 5.
Plaintiffs allege that, because of “national policies
that promote, subsidize, and develop carbon-intensive
industries” and “increase population and
consumption, ” the government is primarily responsible
for exposing them to dangerous conditions on federal lands
resulting from climate change. Id. Plaintiffs also
argue that the government's failure to act has and will
continue to cause them grave injury. Id. at 6.
Plaintiffs ask this Court to, among other things, direct the
government to “phase out fossil fuel extraction, animal
agriculture, and commercial logging of old-growth forests on
federal lands, ” consider impacts on wilderness in
making family planning policy decisions, declare Executive
Order 13783 unconstitutional, and appoint a special master to
review and designate wilderness areas. FAC 71-73.
I. Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(1)
motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) challenges the
subject matter jurisdiction of a federal court. A federal
court has no jurisdiction to resolve any claim for which a
plaintiff lacks standing. Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S.
490, 498 (1975); Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504
U.S. 555, 560 (1992). At minimum, standing requires a
plaintiff to show she has “suffered some actual or
threatened injury as a result of the putatively illegal
conduct of the defendant, and that the injury ‘fairly
can be traced to the challenged action' and ‘is
likely to be redressed by a favorable decision.'”
Valley Forge Christian Coll. v. Ams. United for
Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 472
(1982) (citations omitted). “The party invoking federal
jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing these
elements.” Lujan, 504 U.S. at 561.
Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(6)
survive a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter that
“state[s] a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is plausible on its face when
the factual allegations allow the court to infer the
defendant's liability based on the alleged conduct.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009). The
factual allegations must present more than “the mere
possibility of misconduct.” Id. at 678. When
considering a motion to dismiss, the court must accept all
allegations of material fact as true and construe those facts
in the light most favorable to the non-movant. Burget v.
Lokelani Bernice Pauahi Bishop Trust, 200 F.3d 661, 663
(9th Cir. 2000). However, the court is “not bound to
accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. If the
complaint is dismissed, leave to amend should be granted
unless “the pleading could not possibly be cured by the
allegation of other facts.” Doe v. United
States, 58 F.3d 494, 497 (9th Cir. 1995).
move to dismiss Plaintiffs' action for lack of
jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. Defs.' Mot. i; see Fed. R. Civ.
P. 12(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Because Plaintiffs must
first establish constitutional standing before this Court may
entertain the merits of their claims, I address that issue