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Hurricane Harvey victims sue federal government

[JURIST] Property owners in Harris County, Houston filed a class action lawsuit [amended complaint, PDF] against the federal government on Tuesday for releasing water from the Barker and Addicks reservoirs after Hurricane Harvey, causing flooding in their homes and businesses. The property owners did not experience flooding until August 28, after the worst of the rain had passed. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [official website] said it needed to release water at that time to prevent [Reuters report] uncontrolled water flowing from the dams, which would have caused more damage to the surrounding community. The suit is based on a "takings" claim, arguing that the government took private property for a public use without any formal process or condemnation proceeding. A second federal lawsuit and a state lawsuit [petition, PDF] have also been filed.

Hurricane Harvey brought unprecedented destruction to the Houston area last week, and many believe climate change [JURIST backgrounder] is to blame [Reuters report]. However, climate concerns and solutions are still hotly contested. In June President Donald Trump announced [JURIST report] that the US will no longer be part of the Paris climate accord. In May the US Senate rejected [JURIST report] a measure that would rollback methane gas regulations. The Trump administration in March asked [JURIST report] the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to postpone ruling on the Obama administration's climate change regulations. Despite the resistance in the US, the UN human rights experts called [JURIST report] on global leaders in February to take urgent action on air pollution to ensure world citizens enjoy what the UN calls "the human rights to life and health in environments free from contamination."

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