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.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
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.
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
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’
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.
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
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”
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