Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Montana news about the environment, natural resources, wildlife, climate change and more.

Youths suing Montana over climate change will have their day in court

Missoula High School students join in the nationwide "climate strike", March 15, 2019.
Josh Burnham
Missoula High School students join in the nationwide "climate strike", March 15, 2019.

Sixteen youth plaintiffs are suing the state of Montana for their right to access a clean and healthful environment in a case scheduled to go to trial next year.

Attorneys for the Oregon-based Our Children’s Trust, the Western Environmental Law Center and Kalispell-based McGarvey Law representing the kids announced the trial date this week. The group says in Held v. Montana, that the state’s support of fossil fuels have contributed to climate change.

According to University of Montana law professor Anthony Johnstone, broad climate change challenges like this one are rare, but they have become more common in recent years.

“Almost all of them have failed for one reason or the other, so this would be the first one in Montana, and possibly the first one in the nation, to get as far as a trial.”

According to Our Children's Trust, the trial will be the first youth climate trial in US history

Johnstone said the lawsuit is unlike similar lawsuits because Montana’s Constitution expressly protects a clean and healthful environment, but it’s important to acknowledge that the lawsuit still has a long way to go.

Montana’s Attorney General’s office did not immediately respond to MTPR’s request for comment.

The two-week trial is planned to begin February 6, 2023.

Become a sustaining member for as low as $5/month
Make an annual or one-time donation to support MTPR
Pay an existing pledge or update your payment information