Published on July 25th, 2012 | by Cynthia Shahan
Jaime Lynn Bulter, Our Children's Trust: The State Has a Sovereign Obligation Over “All the Earth and Air”
Notice the gentle touch Jaime’s feet make softly tapping and gliding over the earth in her video for Our Children’s Trust.
I feel a keen sense that Jaime Lynn Butler is nurturing of the earth as her white-moccasin-covered feet touch, hover, and dance on and above the earth, her native ground, in her hoop dance on this video regarding her lawsuit to the Arizona Court of Appeals.
“In the past we would walk across the desert spring to spring. Now with the changing climate our springs are running dry.” Jaime’s Grandfather, James Peshlakai. Jamie continues to share her life as it was, as it is, and as it will become with worsening conditions of climate change. Her house on the Navajo reservation does not have water due to faltering ecosystems that were once sustainable. Global warming has affected and created fragility of water in this part of the land.
On the preface to Jaime’s video, as well as the videos made by other young activists [state by state], is the clear beginnings to what our forefathers did consider our responsibility:
The State has a Sovereign Obligation Over “All the Earth and Air is within its Domain” US Supreme Court (1907). This is called a Public Trust.
Following are a few lines from Jaime’s appeal: “In 2009, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (‘EPA’) found that ‘greenhouse gases taken in combination endanger both the public health and the public welfare of current and future generations.’ 74 Fed. Reg. 66,496 (Dec. 15, 2009); IR # 8 at 4 ¶ 13. The EPA found that ‘[t]he evidence points ineluctably to the conclusion that climate change is upon us as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, that climate changes are already occurring that harm our health and welfare, and that the effects will only worsen over time in the absence of regulatory action.’ 74 Fed. Reg. 18,886, 18,904 (April 24, 2009); IR # 8 at 4 ¶ 13″
In America: State by State
This video and lawsuit are part of an umbrella-like response and approach to rectifying laws regarding climate change across our country. Other young activists are also involved and working towards a reversal of this critical issue. Instead of using up nature till we all suffer, as we are doing now, these activists are intent on healing and helping our country. Their ideology is an old, kind one; it is one of honoring and protecting [for generations to come] the land we and our children’s children’s children all depend upon for sustainability. Let’s look to the gentle American Indian for guidance to this critical issue.
For more on Jaime’s offering and activism, and life, please read: “Jamie and her mother base their lawsuit on the Public Trust Doctrine, which requires sovereign governments to manage and protect vital natural resources for the common benefit of their citizens. By evoking this doctrine, they are not asking for monetary or punitive damages. Instead, they are petitioning the court to require the state of Arizona to develop a climate recovery plan that will protect Arizona’s resources for future generations. Former general counsel at the Environmental Protection Agency, Roger Martella, calls the lawsuit a remarkable legal action and “comprehensive strategy…to encourage this public action to ultimately reduce greenhouse gases.” (E&E TV, May 25, 2011, )
Regarding the “All the Earth and Air is within its Domain” US Supreme Court (1907) ruling:
The strategy is not limited to Arizona. It is part of a larger innovative climate litigation strategy called the Atmospheric Trust Litigation (ATL). As part of this campaign, youth plaintiffs have launched legal actions in 49 states and the District of Columbia, in addition to a federal lawsuit. So far, two courts have expressed willingness to hear out this groundbreaking litigation. Judge Sarah Singleton denied the government’s motion to dismiss in the New Mexico ATL lawsuit and is moving the case forward quickly on the merits to evaluate the public trust obligation and the State of New Mexico’s efforts to protect the atmosphere. Similarly, Judge Gisela Triana of Texas recently held in open court that the atmosphere is a public trust resource.