Two children, backed by the Clean Air Council environmental group, sued U.S. President Donald Trump and two of his Cabinet members on Monday to try to stop them from scrapping a package of pollution-reduction rules known as the Clean Power Plan.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, says the United States is "relying on junk science" and ignoring "clear and present dangers of climate change, knowingly increasing its resulting damages, death and destruction."
It was the latest legal action that green advocates have taken to combat Trump administration efforts to roll back environmental regulations through rule changes at agencies like the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The two young plaintiffs, aged 7 and 11, are identified only by their first and last initials in the court papers, which allege that both are suffering from the effects of a rapidly warming climate.
Trump has called climate change a hoax and said in June he would withdraw the United States from a global pact to combat it — calling the deal's demands for emissions cuts too costly for the U.S. economy.
The lawsuit asks the court to prevent the EPA, Trump and the U.S. Department of Energy, along with Energy Secretary Rick Perry and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, from rolling back any rules that "increase the frequency and/or intensity of life-threatening effects of climate change."
EPA and Energy Department representatives declined to comment. A White House spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Pruitt said on Oct. 10 he wanted to scrap the Clean Power Plan, put in place under former Democratic President Barack Obama.
On Sept. 29, Perry asked federal regulators to provide price incentives to help keep coal and nuclear power plants open, as a way to address "risks" to the resilience of the electrical grid.
By including the children, the Clean Air Council seemed to model its case after Juliana v. U.S., a pending federal case in which a group of teenagers sued the U.S. government for violating their constitutional rights by causing climate change.
"The Clean Air Council case is taking the legal theories pioneered in Juliana and applying them to a narrow set of facts related to specific rollbacks of the Trump administration," said Meg Ward, a spokeswoman for Our Children's Trust, a group leading the Juliana suit.