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.


This project is supported by the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative Journalism Fellowship and done in collaboration with the Montana Free Press newsroom. The Flathead Beacon maintains complete editorial independence in its ongoing reporting about the Held v. Montana litigation.

This project could not have been completed without the following from the Flathead Beacon: Tristan Scott, Kellyn Brown, Denali Sagner, Hunter D’Antuono, Pierce Ware, Dwayne Harris, Judi Lessard, Patrick Sappington and Elizabeth Wasserman; the Montana Free Press: Brad Tyer, Nate Schoenfelder and Amanda Eggert; and Betsy Mason.


This project is available for free republication. When publishing any of these articles, we request that the byline names both the reporter and their publication. All accompanying art may only be used for this package and should not appear as part of other posts.

If you need to make any edits for length or layout, please contact Micah Drew at micah@flatheadbeacon.com. For any other inquiries and to notify the Beacon and MTFP of your republication of this package, please contact Nate Schoenfelder at nschoenfelder@montanafreepress.org and Micah Drew.

In addition, each story must contain the following editors note: This article is part of a series on the youth-led constitutional climate change lawsuit Held v. Montana, which goes to trial in Helena on June 12. The rest of the series can be read at mtclimatecase.flatheadbeacon.com. This project is produced by the Flathead Beacon newsroom, in collaboration with the Montana Free Press, and is supported by the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative Journalism Fellowship