By Dana Drugmand, DeSmog
The historic youth climate trial in Montana concluded today ahead of schedule, after the state presented a condensed defense on Monday that steered clear of disputing climate science. It also excluded testimony from witnesses it had previously planned to call upon, including a neuropsychologist who admitted she had no expertise on climate change’s mental health impacts on youth and climatologist-turned-climate-denier Judith Curry, who had been billed as the state’s star witness.
Curry’s withdrawal came unexpectedly on Friday. Phil Gregory, an attorney for the youth plaintiffs, informed Judge Kathy Seeley that Curry’s anticipated court appearance had been canceled. The precise reason for the cancellation is unclear, and the Montana attorney general’s office did not respond to DeSmog’s inquiry.
“We know [Curry] watched the whole trial last week,” Julia Olson, chief legal counsel and executive director of Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit law firm representing the Montana youth plaintiffs, told reporters outside the courthouse on Monday. “It was pretty clear that her testimony wouldn’t stand up against our expert testimony.”
Last week, some of Montana’s foremost climate scientists and ecologists testified in the historic trial, in support of the plaintiffs’ claims. The landmark Held v. State of Montana case argues that Montana’s government is violating the state’s constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment by prohibiting consideration of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions during environmental reviews conducted during the permitting process for fossil fuel projects. Anne Hedges, a Montana environmental policy expert and the director of policy and legislative affairs for the Montana Environmental Information Center, told the court last week that Montana has never denied a permit for a fossil fuel project.