Eight brave young Floridians, lead by Pinecrest climate-change activist Delaney Reynolds, revealed during a press conference April 17 on the steps of the Miami-Dade County Courthouse why they are suing Governor Rick Scott.
This downtown Miami event followed a press conference the day before at the State Capital in Tallahassee, during which youth plaintiff Oscar Psychas and prominent Florida trial attorney Guy Burns, one of the attorneys representing the youth, spoke publicly following the official filing of the lawsuit that morning.
The eight young people filed a complaint against the State of Florida for actively promoting, permitting, and licensing activities that cause climate change and violate their constitutional rights to a safe climate system. The youth seek a court-ordered, science-based Climate Recovery Plan and they are asking for support among like-minded citizens who are concerned about the future of their state’s natural resources and public spaces.
Reynolds, an 18-year-old college freshman and prominent climate activist, is the founder of The Sink or Swim Project. She also recently conceived and helped write a historic solar power law for the City of South Miami. Reynolds lives part-time on No Name Key, a 1,000-acre island in the Florida Keys, where she is very worried about its future due to rising seas. Learn more here.
“I thank our exceptional legal team, our attorneys, as well as the incredible team at Our Children’s Trust for their help,” said Reynolds.
“On behalf of all the children and the generations that will come after us, thanks to Guy Burns, Andrea Rodgers, Meg Ward, Caitlin Howard, Dick Jacobs, Mitchell Chester, Sandy D’Alemberte, Wally Pope, Jane West, Erin Deady, Deb Swim and Matthew Schultz.”
At the press conference, Reynolds explain that they are suing Florida Governor Rick Scott and the State of Florida along with the seven other children to demand that the promises made to them in the Florida Constitution and The Public Trust Doctrine be kept and that Public Trust Resources, including the atmosphere and waters be protected from man-made carbon dioxide pollution caused by fossil fuels.
“I strongly feel that we have a moral obligation to try and change things before it’s too late,” said Reynolds in a prepared statement, excerpts of which are as follows:
“I am the fourth generation of my family to live in South Florida and was born here in Miami. I love the state of Florida and its incredible diversity including the vibrancy and natural beauty of Miami and Miami Beach, the serenity of places like Matheson Hammock, and natural wonders such as the Florida Keys, our state’s amazing coral reefs and, of course, the Everglades, the only habitat of its kind on earth.
“But I am deeply worried about Florida’s future. The carbon dioxide that is being pumped into our atmosphere and oceans from petroleum products made from fossil fuels place parts of Florida that I cherish at the very real risk of disappearing… Of becoming extinct… Of being lost… Forever.
“And those concerns, along with our State leaders total disregard for what is already happening, much less the threats that we face in the future, is part of the reason that I am suing our Governor and State of Florida. Our climate change crisis is the biggest issue that my generation will ever face and it’s up to us, today’s children, to fix this problem. It is my hope that the court will rule to require that Florida enact and enforce laws to reduce and eliminate carbon emissions so that our state and citizens can have a future here.
“Communities large and small all over Florida are already being forced to take action to address our climate crisis and when it comes to sea level rise, South Florida is literally ground zero for what’s happening here in the United States. Billions of dollars of real estate, as well as the tax revenue that goes with it is at risk. Millions of people face the very real risk of being forced from our region and becoming climate change refugees. Much of our environment is literally at risk of extinction and yet our state’s political leaders avoid and deny the reality that our citizens increasingly face and leave it to locals to try and address this enormous issue.
“Concerned citizens and many local leaders are coming to realize that we must take action if South Florida is to have a chance to have a future. Yet, Florida’s Governor mocks us by denying that human caused climate change and sea level rise is an issue by saying that he has no view on these topics because, as he likes to say, he’s ‘not a scientist’.”