By Lesley Clark, E&E News
Montana legislators have rolled back environmental protections central to a youth-led climate lawsuit that next month could become the first of its kind in the United States to go before a judge.
Held v. Montana, a 2020 lawsuit filed on behalf of 16 young people, accuses state lawmakers of pursuing legislation that degrades the environment and is scheduled to be heard in Helena starting June 12.
In the lead-up to the landmark trial, however, environmentalists rebuked Montana lawmakers who — in a flurry of last-minute legislating — sent bills to Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte that will only make it more difficult for the state to act on global warming.
“When you have a supermajority, you pretty much take every opportunity to dismantle everything in your path,” said Sierra Club Montana Director Caryn Miske of Montana Republicans, who control two-thirds of the state House and Senate, as well as the governor’s office.
Montana argued last week in court that the new laws render the youth lawsuit meaningless. But 1st District Court Judge Kathy Seeley, who will hear the case, told both sides to continue to prepare for trial.
“I’m not intending to just stop everything so that we can spend months wrapped around that spoke,” Seeley said, according to a report from the Missoula Current.