A judge in Montana has ruled that a law that bars the state from considering the impact of greenhouse-gas emissions in environmental reviews violates the constitutional rights of 16 young people who sued over climate change.
Judge Kathy Seeley in the First Judicial District Court of Montana made the ruling on Monday (14 August) in a lawsuit by the 16 people who cited the state’s constitutional right to a “clean and healthful environment”.
The ABA Journal said that Montana was one of six states with constitutional provisions that explicitly protected environmental rights.
It added that Our Children’s Trust, the group representing the 16, had pending climate-change cases in four states besides Montana.
Julia Olson, the chief legal counsel and executive director with Our Children’s Trust, called the decision “a sweeping win for our clients” and a “game-changer”.
“Today, for the first time in US history, a court ruled on the merits of a case that the government violated the constitutional rights of children through laws and actions that promote fossil fuels, ignore climate change, and disproportionately imperil young people,” Olson said.
Seeley had previously ruled that she did not have the power to order the state to develop a remedial plan, but she could grant declaratory relief.
Montana has 60 days to decide on whether to appeal.