By Lesley Clark, E&E News
CLIMATEWIRE | HELENA, Mont. — Young people suing Montana for embracing fossil fuels will wrap up their case Friday, closing out a week of bashing officials for ignoring climate effects they say are warming the state’s famed fishing rivers, melting its iconic glaciers and harming its youngest residents.
The state — which has argued during cross-examination over the last four days that Montana’s greenhouse gas emissions are declining and are too small to make much of a dent in global warming — will present its case next week.
The lawsuit, Held v. Montana, contends that the energy-rich state’s refusal to consider greenhouse gas emissions violates a provision of the state constitution that guarantees the right to a “clean and healthful environment.”
Anne Hedges, policy and legislative affairs director at the Montana Environmental Information Center, testified Thursday that the state did look at climate change when reviewing fossil fuel projects — until a decade ago when three large power plants were scuttled by public opposition.
Facing backlash from industry, she said, the state “doubled down on fossil fuels.” Lawmakers in 2011 passed a revision to the Montana Environmental Policy Act that bars state agencies from considering climate implications when reviewing proposed projects, and then-Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) signed it into law.