I’ve only been there once, but Montana is an absolutely beautiful place. And much like other places that people call home, those that live there want to keep it that way.
It’s really heartening to see youth-led action be successful in a court of law. I hope that this leads to more cases being brought around the world.
A Montana state court today sided with young people who sued the state for promoting the fossil fuel industry through its energy policy, which they alleged prohibits Montana from weighing greenhouse gas emissions in approving the development of new factories and power plants. This prohibition, 16 plaintiffs ages 5 to 22 successfully argued, violates their constitutional right to a “clean and healthful environment in Montana for present and future generations.”
Experts previously predicted that a win for youths in Montana would set an important legal precedent for how courts can hold states accountable for climate inaction. The same legal organization representing Montana’s young plaintiffs, Our Children’s Trust, is currently pursuing similar cases in four other states, The Washington Post reported.
Montana tried to argue that adjusting its energy policy and other statutes would have “no meaningful impact or appreciable effect,” the Post reported, because climate change is a global issue. Montana Assistant Attorney General Michael Russell described the testimony as a “week-long airing of political grievances that properly belong in the Legislature, not a court of law,” according to the Post. Notably, the state did not meaningfully attempt to dispute climate science.
Experts told Scientific American that Montana’s emissions are significant given its population size, emitting in 2019 “about 32 million tons of carbon dioxide.” That’s “about as much as Ireland, which has a population six times larger,” Scientific American reported. Young people suing alleged that Montana had “never denied a permit for a fossil fuel project,” the Post reported.