On March 13, 2020, 16 young Montanans filed their constitutional climate lawsuit against the state of Montana, asserting that, by supporting a fossil fuel-driven energy system, which is contributing to the climate crisis, Montana is violating their constitutional rights to a clean and healthful environment; to seek safety, health, and happiness; and to individual dignity and equal protection of the law. The youth plaintiffs also argue that the state’s fossil fuel energy system is degrading and depleting Montana’s constitutionally protected public trust resources, including the atmosphere, rivers and lakes, fish and wildlife.
The 16 plaintiffs who are suing Montana are: row one: Rikki, Lander, Lilian, Ruby; row two: Georgi, Badge, Eva, Kian; row three: Taleah, Olivia, Jeff, Nate; row four: Mica, Claire, Grace, Sariel Photograph: Courtesy of Our Children’s Trust
On August 3, 2021, these 16 young plaintiffs secured a critical victory when Judge Kathy Seeley denied the state’s attempt to prevent their case, Held v. State of Montana, from proceeding to trial.
Now, the Montana court has joined others, including courts in Washington, Texas, Oregon, and Colorado, in exercising the court’s role to declare the constitutional boundaries of what governments must and must not do when it comes to climate change.
This is a watershed moment for all the science-based youth climate lawsuits supported by the non-profit law firm, Our Children’s Trust, including Juliana v. United States, La Rose v. Her Majesty the Queen, Sagoonick v. Alaska and many more.
In this zoom briefing recorded on August 13, 2021, attorneys Roger Sullivan of Kallispell with Melissa Hornbein and Nate Bellinger of Our Children’s Trust are joined by youth plaintiffs Ricki Held of Broaddus and Grace Gibson-Snyder of Missoula in discussing the significance to their case, Held v. Montana. Erin Barnhart moderates.
You can find out more here:
In Montana, It’s Youth vs. the State in a Landmark Climate Case https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/24/climate/montana-youth-climate-lawsuit.html
European Human Rights Court Hears Historic Climate Case Brought by Elderly Swiss Women https://www.commondreams.org/news/climate-lawsuit
Guest Column: Two Minutes by James C. Nelson, former MT Supreme Court Justice https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/opinions/guest_columnists/guest-column-two-minutes/article_988809e6-b239-11ed-be88-d72df0767818.html
In Montana, young activists take fight against climate change to court https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2022/12/16/climate-change-montana-court
Fossil fuels v our future: young Montanans wage historic climate fight https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/apr/13/young-people-montana-fossil-fuels-climate-crisis
Teen climate activist subjected to sexist and racist abuse amid federal court climate case https://www.theguardian.com/law/2022/apr/12/teen-climate-activist-subjected-to-sexist-and-racist-abuse-amid-federal-court-climate-case
Trial set in climate change lawsuit brought by Montana youths https://helenair.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/trial-set-in-climate-change-lawsuit-brought-by-montana-youths/article_2a59c86e-d71c-5053-9499-6d4631d2d806.html#tracking-source=home-top-story
Judge rules in favor of Montana youth plaintiffs, affirms case can proceed to trial https://westernlaw.org/judge-rules-favor-montana-youth-plaintiffs-affirms-case-can-proceed-trial/
MONTANA: Judge Sides With Youth Plaintiffs in Climate Case https://ens-newswire.com/montana-judge-sides-with-youth-plaintiffs-in-climate-case/
Young people go to European court to stop treaty that aids fossil fuel investors https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/21/young-people-go-to-european-court-to-stop-treaty-that-aids-fossil-fuel-investors
COP 26: The teenagers suing 33 countries https://www.bbc.com/news/av/science-environment-59776108
‘This Is Not Over’: Alaska Supreme Court Rejects Youth Climate Case https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/01/28/not-over-alaska-supreme-court-rejects-youth-climate-case
This Scientist Says Climate Activists Need to Get Real https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/04/25/magazine/vaclav-smil-interview.html