Written by: Andrew Allen
Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro
In a Nutshell: Montana’s constitution guarantees Montanans the right to a clean and healthful environment. The Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) fights to ensure that constitutional right is upheld. MEIC works to combat pollution and promote clean and renewable energy sources. Member donations enable the organization to educate the public and influence policy. MEIC partners with its supporters to position Montana as a leader in adopting clean energy practices.
If you’ve ever found yourself gridlocked in traffic for an excessive length of time, you know what a frustrating experience that can be. Your patience diminishes while horns honk and exhaust fumes accumulate.
Or maybe you’ve had to bide your time in the crowded waiting room of a doctor’s office, doing your best to maintain sanity while attempting to inconspicuously dodge the germs bouncing around the room in pursuit of their next prey.
During these stressful moments, I find it beneficial to close my eyes and imagine I’m somewhere else. Somewhere peaceful, beautiful, and inspirational. My mind wanders to visions of undisturbed and majestic landscapes with soaring mountains, pristine lakes, and an assortment of radiant color juxtapositions. Meditating on this imagery restores me to a healthier state of mind.
The place I envision isn’t some imagined Xanadu or an amalgamation of Roger Dean paintings. It’s Montana.
Montana is a state of rugged natural beauty and countless idyllic vistas. The Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) is dedicated to keeping it that way.
In 1972, the Montana Constitutional Convention convened to write a new constitution for the state. The state’s constitution includes a provision that guarantees residents the right to a clean and healthful environment.
MEIC was founded the very next year. Today, Cari Kimball is the organization’s Executive Director.
“Our constitution is very unique in providing the foundational right to a clean and healthful environment,” Kimball said. “But those words on paper are just that — words on paper. MEIC’s efforts involve bringing these words into action and ensuring our rights are actually being upheld.”
“Clean and healthful” were just words on paper and part of MEIC’s mission until 1999, when a Montana Supreme Court ruling in MEIC v. DEQ gave the right teeth.
Kimball said a primary focus of MEIC is to lobby the state legislature and other decision makers to pass and uphold environmentally protective laws.
“There’s a lot of work to be done to ensure that people’s health, our communities’ health, and the vibrancy of our wildland and all the places we love in the state of Montana are being protected,” she said.