Sixteen youths in Montana are suing the state, claiming that it is unconstitutional for the state to continue “exploiting” fossil fuels.
The trial started Monday morning and is expected to last two weeks.
“This trial will be an historic opportunity for these 16 young Montanans, and their experts, to testify in open court about how the state of Montana’s historic and ongoing promotion of fossil fuels is causing plaintiffs grave injuries, and the urgent need for judicial intervention,” said Nate Bellinger, senior staff attorney at Our Children’s Trust. “As climate destructions mount with each passing month, it has never been more important for youth-led constitutional climate cases, such as this one, to have their day in court.”
The plaintiffs say Montana’s fossil fuel energy system “degrades and depletes constitutionally-protected public trust resources, including the atmosphere, rivers, lakes, fish, and wildlife.”
The case is one of several that Our Children’s Trust is leading on behalf of young people. The group has been representing young people to enforce climate change legal rights, it says.
The 16 children filed the lawsuit on March 13, 2020. In August 2021, a judge threw out a motion to dismiss the case.
The state took the case to the state Supreme Court, which denied the request to stop the case.