By Micah Drew, Flathead Beacon
Landmark lawsuit alleges Montana’s government knowingly contributes to climate change by approving policies and projects that promote a fossil-fuel based energy economy, violating the young plaintiffs’ constitutional right to ‘a clean and healthful environment’
Twenty days before the first constitutional climate change case was set to go to trial, attorneys for the state of Montana succeeded in drastically narrowing the scope of the lawsuit after a judge dismissed claims against a now-repealed state energy policy.
Filed in March 2020, the lawsuit, Held v. Montana, was brought by 16 youth plaintiffs from across Montana who allege the state has violated their constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment. The complaint focuses on two statutes — provisions of Montana’s state energy policy, which explicitly promotes the use of fossil fuels, and an amendment to the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA), which prevents the state from considering how the state’s energy economy contributes to climate change.