By Evan George, LegalPlanet
Held v. Montana is the first of many climate lawsuits by youth plaintiffs to go to trial. Big Sky Country is a fitting forum for this phase of climate change litigation.
Young people who have the most to lose from climate change have filed lawsuits in all 50 states, but the first of these cases to go to trial will be in Montana—unofficially nicknamed “the Last Best Place”—which may be the perfect venue for a landmark trial about government culpability for the global climate crisis.
Starting June 12, reporters and television crews from across the country will converge on a quaint courthouse overlooking Helena, one of the smallest capital cities in the country and one that was founded by prospectors as a mining camp. That’s where 1st Judicial District Court Judge Kathy Seeley, a state judge, will oversee a 10-day trial in the case of Held v. Montana.
The 16 teenage and child plaintiffs are seeking to pressure the state to change its energy policies, which they say involve “systemic authorization, permitting, encouragement, and facilitation of activities promoting fossil fuels and resulting in dangerous levels of greenhouse gas emissions, without regard to climate change impacts or the fundamental rights of Youth Plaintiffs and future generations of Montanans.” The nonprofit Our Children’s Trust has facilitated this lawsuit and many more across the country.