A Montana court has ruled that the Big Sky state’s failure to consider climate change implications when approving fossil fuel projects is unconstitutional.
The decision comes on the heels of a nearly identical case that was lost by the same litigation group, Our Children’s Trust, in January of 2022, when Alaska justices ruled against it.
The Montana case, Held v. Montana, is seen as a win for environmentalists fighting oil, gas, and coal, which they say contributes to global warming.
“Today’s ruling in Montana marks a crucial turning point. As wildfires fueled by fossil fuel emissions devastate the West, this decision is emblematic of a broader change in perspective on the climate crisis,” said Julia Olson, of Our Children’s Trust. “This victory isn’t just for Montana but stands as a beacon for democracy, youth, and our planet. It’s a sign that more of these favorable rulings are on the horizon.”
Under the Montana’s judge’s directive, Montana must factor in climate change in any decisions related to fossil fuel projects.
Montana’s attorney general’s office will appeal the decision to the Montana Supreme Court.
“The ruling is a mere outcome of a week-long, taxpayer-funded show presented as a trial. Montanans shouldn’t be held accountable for global climate changes,” said Emily Flower, spokesperson for the attorney general. “Montanans can’t be blamed for changing the climate.”
“This legal battle is not an isolated incident. The Our Children’s Trust group is preparing to challenge the State of Alaska again this year after their previous defeat in Sagoonick v. State of Alaska,” said Attorney General Austin Knudsen.
The impending lawsuit in Alaska alleges that the State of Alaska’s promotion of fossil fuels aggravates the state’s climate issues, thus infringing on the constitutional rights of its younger citizens.
The Our Children’s Trust group argues that the Alaska State Constitution promises every Alaskan a stable climate and equal access to essential natural resources, which the present government is allegedly jeopardizing with its policies.
The earlier Sagoonick case saw the Alaska Supreme Court dismiss the lawsuit because the court, in a split decision, deemed the plaintiffs’ requests non-justiciable political questions, largely leaning on a precedent set in an earlier case.