Montana’s Climate Change Lawsuit

Held v. Montana is the first constitutional climate change lawsuit to go to trial. In the case, filed in 2020, 16 youth plaintiffs from across Montana allege the state government has violated their constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment.


Filed in March 2020, Held v. Montana was brought by 16 youth plaintiffs from across Montana who allege the state has violated their right to a clean and healthful environment, a principle enshrined in the Montana Constitution. While many similar climate-change lawsuits have been dismissed prior to trial, Held is set to be heard in Montana’s First Judicial District Court in Helena beginning June 12.

This collaborative reporting project delves into the legal underpinnings of the case, the history of Montana’s right to a clean and healthful environment and how the 2023 Legislature approached energy and environmental policy. It also offers snapshots of five plaintiffs in the case and what brought them to the legal table. During the trial, journalists in Helena will be reporting daily from inside the courtroom.

Judge Rules in Favor of Youth Plaintiffs in Montana Climate Lawsuit

A Montana district judge on Monday issued a ruling in the nation’s first constitutional climate change trial declaring the youth plaintiffs have a “fundamental constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment” while revoking two Montana statutes. The state Attorney General’s office said it would appeal the ruling. The 103-page order by Lewis and Clark District Court Judge Kathy

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Montana Youth Prepare for Trial in Bellwether Climate Case Against State

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’

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‘To a Clean and Healthful Environment’

When Montana’s constitution was ratified by voters in 1972 it enshrined a citizen’s right to a clean and healthful environment into the future. The youth-led climate change lawsuit Held v. Montana is predicated on this right and its interpretation through Montana’s courts.

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Montana Lawmakers Double Down on Fossil Fuels in 2023 Legislative Session

The recent legislative session passed a slew of laws that highlight lawmakers’ energy priorities, and took direct aim at the pivotal case, Held v. Montana

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Who is ‘Held’ of Held v. State of Montana?

Early exposure to scientific rigor and climate change’s impact on ranches led Rikki Held to confer her name to the nation’s first constitutional climate change lawsuit to reach trial

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For the Busse Brothers, Climate Change is a Reality — and a Violation of Constitutional Rights

Two Kalispell brothers cite changes to skiing and hunting seasons as reasons for joining the coalition of Montana youth suing several state agencies over failure to secure their “right to a clean and healthful environment”

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Running Toward a Future in the Face of Climate Change

Mica Kantor, 14, says he has felt the impacts of the changing climate on the roads, tracks and trails he runs on, prompting his inclusion as a plaintiff in Held v. Montana

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Battle for a Better Future

Bigfork teenager Kian Tanner was raised beside the Flathead Valley’s scenic mountains and rivers. Now, he’s fighting to save them.

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