Kids Win Montana Climate Change Lawsuit

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From Watts Up With That?

Essay by Eric Worrall

The judge has upheld a claim the State of Montana has a duty to protect citizens from climate change.

Youth activists win ‘game-changer’ case for U.S. climate change protections

The young activists argued Montana was violating their constitutional right to a clean and healthy environment by permitting fossil fuels without considering the climate.

Aug. 15, 2023, 5:25 AM AEST

By The Associated Press

HELENA, Mont. — A Montana judge on Monday sided with young environmental activists who said state agencies were violating their constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment by permitting fossil fuel development without considering its effect on the climate.

The ruling in the first-of-its- kind trial in the U.S. adds to a small number of legal decisions around the world that have established a government duty to protect citizens from climate change.

District Court Judge Kathy Seeley found the policy the state uses in evaluating requests for fossil fuel permits — which does not allow agencies to evaluate the effects of greenhouse gas emissions — is unconstitutional.

Judge Seeley wrote in the ruling that “Montana’s emissions and climate change have been proven to be a substantial factor in causing climate impacts to Montana’s environment and harm and injury” to the youth.

However, it’s up to the state Legislature to determine how to bring the policy into compliance. That leaves slim chances for immediate change in a fossil fuel-friendly state where Republicans dominate the statehouse.

Read more:

Youth plaintiffs in the climate change lawsuit, Held vs. Montana, arrive at the Lewis and Clark County Courthouse, in Helena, Mont., for the final day of the trial on June 20.Thom Bridge / Independent Record via AP, File

The court ruling is available here.

One thing for sure, this is the last chance greens will have to celebrate their victory. The Montana Legislature appear to have considerable latitude to develop a response to this obligation. This ruling is unlikely to lead to wind and solar.

There are likely plenty of ways the Montana legislature could comply with the ruling, while thoroughly infuriating greens.

For example, the Montana Legislature could ignore the renewable option, and fast track approval of new nuclear reactors, to reduce state emissions.

Or they could point out that far more people die in Winter than Summer, and do everything in their power to protect Montana people from climate harms, by releasing more CO2.

Of course, the most intriguing possibility, the Montana legislature now has real motivation to challenge the shaky scientific foundations of the alleged climate crisis. This problem goes away if the courts accept the evidence does not support the need for immediate action to address the alleged climate crisis. They could invite climate skeptics to testify at hearings, to point out that fossil fuel is a net benefit.

Popcorn all round.

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