Montana Judge Rules In Favor Of Young Climate Activists In Lawsuit Over Fossil Fuels

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A judge has ruled in favor of more than a dozen young people who came together to sue the state of Montana for enacting legislation they say benefits the fossil fuel industry while harming residents and wildlife, a win environmental activists say could empower others to take action on climate change.

Supporters gather at a theater next to the court house to watch the court proceedings for the … [+] nation’s first youth climate change trial at Montana’s First Judicial District Court on June 12, 2023 in Helena, Montana.

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Sixteen plaintiffs ranging in age from 5 to 22 went to trial in June and claimed Montana officials violated their constitutional right to a “clean and healthful environment” by repeatedly choosing to support the state’s extensive coal and fossil fuel industry over cleaner energy alternatives.

In Held v. State of Montana, the plaintiffs asked the court to confirm that Montana’s pro-fossil fuel policies, which include a law that bars state agencies from considering environmental impacts when permitting energy projects, contributed to climate change and are a constitutional violation.

Judge Kathy Seeley agreed, and said in a 103-page order Monday that the law prohibiting the consideration of emissions is unconstitutional and that the plaintiffs “have a fundamental constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment, which includes climate as part of the environmental life-support system.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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Mary Whitfill Roeloffs

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