Back in March 2020, a brave group of 16 youngsters, ranging from ages 5 to 22, took the bold step of suing the State of Montana. Their claim? The state’s fossil fuel support was not just hurting the environment but infringing on their right to live in a “clean and healthful environment.”
District Court Judge Kathy Seeley was evidently impressed. After a two-week trial where the young activists showcased how rising carbon dioxide levels were leading to environmental issues like hotter temperatures, droughts, wildfires, and diminishing snowpack, she ruled in their favor.
Seeley’s 103-page verdict read like a vindication for the youths, emphasizing how they, as the younger generation, bear the brunt of the adverse effects of climate change. Furthermore, she deemed some laws that promoted fossil fuels as unconstitutional.
Legal nonprofit Our Children’s Trust, which spearheaded this legal battle, couldn’t be happier. Their lead counsel, Julia Olson, deemed the decision a monumental “game-changer” and lauded the judgment as a significant stride for the present generation in their fight against climate crises.
Point to note: Montana isn’t just another state when it comes to coal – it boasts the country’s largest recoverable coal reserves and is its fourth-largest coal producer.
While the youths and their advocates revel in their legal victory, not everyone’s pleased. The Montana attorney general’s office is already signaling an appeal, with their spokesperson branding the ruling as a “publicity stunt.”
Regardless of the state’s next move, this trial serves as a striking reminder of the power of youth activism and its potential impact on the future of our planet.”