This is cause for celebration, folks.
W in the Chat
In an unprecedented ruling, a state judge has sided with a group of youth climate activists who sued the state of Montana over its promotion of fossil fuels, which the young environmentalists said harms their right to a “clean and healthful environment.”
The first-of-its-kind ruling in “Held v. Montana” — which found that Montana’s fossil fuel boosting violated the state constitutional rights of its 16 plaintiffs, aged five to 22 — could set an important judicial precedent.
Over the course of the trial, the sixteen young plaintiffs offered stirring testimony about how harmful climate change has been in their short lives, including the particularly intense tale told by one asthmatic teen who said he was a “prisoner in [his] own home” while isolating from both COVID-19 infection and wildfire smoke.
“This is a huge win for Montana, for youth, for democracy, and for our climate,” Julia Olson, the founder of Our Children’s Trust, told The Guardian. “More rulings like this will certainly come.”
Lawyers for the plaintiffs and their sponsoring organizations argued that a carve-out in the Montana Environmental Policy Act that barred the state from reviewing or analyzing the environmental impact of fossil fuels was unconstitutional. Judge Kathy Seeley, who presided over “Held v. Montana,” agreed.
The case, as the Washington Post notes, is both the first youth-led constitutional climate law suit to go to court in the United States. Winning it is a massive victory not just for the young plaintiffs, but for climate activists writ large.
“People around the world are watching this case,” Michael Gerrard, the founder of Columbia’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, told WaPo.
While the win, which was a long time coming for the case first filed back in 2020, is certainly huge, it’s far from the only case of its kind.
A look at the press release page for Our Children’s Trust, one of the nonprofits that brought “Held v. Montana” to trial, shows that there are several other similar cases awaiting trial, including one led by youth in Hawai’i, where wildfires have ravaged the island of Maui and left nearly 100 people dead.
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