Today, attorneys for the 14 youth plaintiffs in the constitutional climate case Navahine F. v. Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT) announced newly scheduled dates for their trial: June 24 – July 12, 2024, at the Environmental Court of First Circuit.
“These brave youth plaintiffs will finally get their day in Court,” said Andrea Rodgers, Senior Litigation Attorney, Our Children’s Trust. “The law is clear that the state must decarbonize its transportation system as quickly as possible, and the youth look forward to holding the state accountable for fulfilling their own legal promises that have been disregarded by HDOT for years.”
“We are confident that once Judge Tonaki hears the law and facts in this case, HDOT will finally be set straight toward meeting its kuleana (responsibility) to reduce climate-killing emissions from our state transportation system,” said Isaac Moriwake, Managing Attorney with Earthjustice. “HDOT’s resistance to the real changes needed to address the climate emergency violates the constitutional rights of young people throughout the Hawaiian Islands.”
“I am super excited to finally have our case heard,” said Taliya N., one of the 14 youth represented in this case. “It took a whole year just to get to this point, the starting point. It has been so frustrating because I, my fellow plaintiffs, and young people throughout our islands are suffering with extreme heat, drought, flooding, rising seas, and a lot of anxiety, while carbon emissions from transportation continue to skyrocket. This is not acceptable. We need a court to step in and protect our future.”
With the trial date now set, Navahine F. v. Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation becomes just the second-ever constitutional climate case to go to trial in the country, just months after Held v. State of Montana was held in June, with a ruling from Judge Kathy Seeley at the Lewis & Clark County District Court in Helena, Montana, forthcoming. The Hawai‘i case is also the first to deal with greenhouse gas emissions (GHG)from the transportation sector.
About Navahine F. v. Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation
Navahine F. v. Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation, filed in June 2022, contends the state’s department of transportation operates a system that emits high levels of greenhouse gasses, violating the youth plaintiffs’ state constitutional rights, causing them significant harm, and impacting their ability to “live healthful lives in Hawaiʻi now and into the future,” according to the complaint. Hawai‘i has sought to be a leader in state-level climate action, yet GHG emissions from the transportation sector are on the rise and HDOT has missed every interim benchmark to reduce overall GHG emissions since 2008. The youth plaintiffs seek to hold HDOT accountable to ensure they meet the state’s goal to decarbonize Hawaiʻi’s transportation sector and achieve a zero emissions economy by 2045.
The youth plaintiffs are represented by Andrea Rodgers, Kimberly Willis, and Joanna Zeigler with Our Children’s Trust; and Isaac Moriwake, Leinā‘ala L. Ley, and Kylie Wager Cruz of Earthjustice. This is one of several youth-led constitutional climate lawsuits brought by Our Children’s Trust with local counsel like Earthjustice’s Mid-Pacific Office.