Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy


This Article spotlights a recent Washington case, Foster v. Washington Department of Ecology, which breaks new judicial ground in forcing governments to control dangerous GHG emissions. The case is part of an urgent global litigation campaign known as Atmospheric Trust Litigation (ATL). The Article begins by summarizing the actions deemed necessary by scientists to avert climate catastrophe, and describes the ATL campaign that formed in response. Part II explains the public trust framework, which provides the legal foundation for this climate litigation. Part III examines the three stages of atmospheric trust cases and describes the litigation up until the Foster decision. Finally, Part IV analyzes the Foster decision for its path-breaking role and potential effect on the ATL climate campaign as a whole.

First Page




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