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Colorado River Ecosystem v State of Colorado

Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Case No. 1:17-cv-02316-NYW (2017)

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Colorado River Ecosystem v State of Colorado

United States District Court for the District of Colorado

Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Case No. 1:17-cv-02316-NYW (2017)

Facts

[Editor’s Note: This is a brief of a complaint rather than a legal decision.] In 2017, attorney Jason Flores-Williams, Esq. filed a federal complaint on behalf of the Colorado River Ecosystem (the ecosystem) (plaintiff). Flores asserted that the well-being of the ecosystem was essential to both human and nonhuman life in the American Southwest and that existing federal and state laws had failed to protect the ecosystem from harm. Flores-Williams further argued that the planet was on the verge of collapse, and the ability of the ecosystem to exist, flourish, regenerate, be restored, and naturally evolve was under threat from climate change, diversion of water for human use, and damming. Without the ability to protect itself from these threats, the ecosystem would collapse, jeopardizing the lives of the humans, animals, and plants the ecosystem supports. Thus, Flores-Williams petitioned the United States District Court for the District of Colorado to issue a declaratory judgment establishing that (1) the ecosystem was a legal person with the rights to exist, flourish, regenerate, be restored, and naturally evolve; (2) the ecosystem could seek judicial relief through next friends or guardians; and (3) the State of Colorado (defendant) had a duty to refrain from violating the ecosystem’s rights.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning

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