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Climate Justice Team - Judge Sides with Young Activists

In a summer marked by environmental disasters, some good news emerged. In an unprecedented climate lawsuit brought by 16 young Montanans, a district judge ruled on August 14 that the plaintiffs, who ranged in age from 5-22, have a “fundamental constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment.”

The young activists successfully sued over a law that said their state could not take greenhouse gas emissions into account when considering mining or energy projects. The lawsuit was brought by the nonprofit law firm Our Children’s Trust, which is pursuing similar litigation in other states.

Montana is one of a handful of states with environmental rights written into their constitutions. New Yorker's approved a “green amendment” to the Bill of Rights of our state constitution by a 2-1 margin in November 2021. It remains to be seen what impact Held v. State of Montana will have on future lawsuits and on the responsibility of a state or national government to protect its citizens from environmental harm.

Cover photo credit: Garry Knight (CC0 or public domain)


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