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Children’s climate change lawsuit against the state of Montana starts today 2023-05-25

The children’s lawsuit against the State of Montana on climate policy starts today, June 12, 2023.

The plaintiffs have already won part of it without a trial: the state legislature repealed a law that promoted fossil fuels.

[Judge (Daily Montanan) and the child plaintiffs (New York Times)]
Judge (Daily Montanan) and the child plaintiffs (New York Times)

This case is all over the news today as the trial starts.

But the judge’s decision to allow the trial was made more than two weeks ago, according to the Daily Montanan:

Multiple times in her order, [Judge Kathy] Seeley cites a 1999 Montana Supreme Court decision in the “MEIC I” case in which the court decided Montana’s 1972 Constitutional framers “did not intend to merely prohibit that degree of environmental degradation which can be conclusively linked to ill health or physical endangerment.”

She cited multiple framers who said they believed defending a healthful environment both meant there should be no future degradation of it beyond 1972 and that citizens should not need to show their health was hurt to find relief from potential damages.

“In fact, the Court has repeatedly found that the Framers intended the state constitution contain ‘the strongest environmental protection provision found in any state constitution,” she wrote.

MEIC I was MEIC v. Montana DEQ 1999, in which Justice Terry Trieweiler of the Montana Supreme Court also wrote, “[Montana’s] constitution does not require that dead fish float on the surface of our state’s rivers and streams before its farsighted environmental protections can be invoked.”

There’s a lot of pessimism by environmentalists about this case. But remember: few people thought it would ever get to trial. And the children already won a major concession from the state without even getting to trial.

Blair Miller, Daily Montanan, May 25, 2023, Judge allows Montana youth climate change lawsuit to proceed to trial: Continue reading