The kids are mad and they’re not backing down from attempting to hold the adults they think need to be held accountable. The state of Montana is embroiled in a lawsuit in the country’s first-of-its kid youth-let climate change lawsuit that’s moving forward with a trial. Here’s what you need to know.
According to NBC News, 16 youth plaintiffs have sued Montana over its energy policy. The case, Held v. State of Montana, alleges the state’s “heavy dependence” on fossil fuel development speeds up climate change and “infringes on their constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment.”
The complaint was first filed in March 2020, and it has moved through several phases since. In August 2021, the state filed to have the case dismissed, which was denied by the judge. That paved the way for the case to move to trial and marked the first lawsuit of its kind in the United States.
“Children are uniquely vulnerable to the consequences of the climate crisis, which harms Youth Plaintiffs’ physical and psychological health and safety, interferes with family and cultural foundations and integrity, and causes economic deprivations,” the complaint reads.
Montana is one of a few states that have environmental rights in its state constitution. The article, IX, was added in 1972 and reads, “The state and each person shall maintain and improve a clean and healthful environment in Montana for present and future generations.”
Lawsuits related to climate change have been happening more and more in recent years, and it’s one way youth can hold governments accountable for the world they’ll be left with.
Rikki Held, the only named plaintiff in the lawsuit against the state of Montana says the lawsuit is “a long time coming.” She continued, “Having the courts actually going through … the actual scientific evidence, the best evidence we have so far, to help us protect our constitutional rights … protect the homes we love and the people we care about.”
The trial is scheduled to start on February 6, 2023, according to NBC News.