An Iowa appeals court has upheld an Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) decision to deny a petition asking the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Filippone v. IDNR, No. 2-1005/12-0444 (Iowa Ct. App. 3/13/13). Kids vs Global Warming filed the IDNR petition, and the minor plaintiff, Glori Dei Filippone, joined it along with Our Children’s Trust. Filippone provided oral and written comments, and when IDNR denied the petition, Filippone appealed.
Filippone argued that the public trust doctrine applies to the atmosphere and thus that the state must “consider new rules regarding greenhouse gas emissions.” The doctrine is “‘based on the notion that the public possesses inviolable rights to certain natural resources.’” Finding that the public trust doctrine “has a narrow scope” in the state, the Iowa appellate court declined to expand the doctrine beyond the navigable-water beds, and lakes and rivers used recreationally, to which it had previously been applied. A secondary argument that the state constitution’s Inalienable Rights Clause “provides Iowans with a constitutionally-protected right to a life-sustaining atmosphere” failed because it had not been raised before IDNR