Montana environmental group suing state over constitutional climate change obligation to begin trial
A group of young people in Montana who are suing the state government for allegedly failing to protect them from climate change is set to begin a two-week trial on Monday. Montana has a constitutional obligation to protect residents from the impacts of climate change. The 16 plaintiffs, whose ages range between 5 and 22, will try to persuade state District Judge Kathy Seeley that the state has violated this requirement and has endangered their health and livelihoods. The states Constitution says the government must "maintain and improve a clean and healthful environment" and experts say the case could set a legal precedent in several other states with similar environmental protections written into their constitutions, including Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York. Environmentalists are clinging to the case as a potential turning point for legal challenges as similar suits in nearly every state have been dismissed, according to The Associated Press. MT GAS PLANT TO RESUME CONSTRUCTION AFTER JUDGE REVERSES CLIMATE-BASED PERMIT SUSPENSION The plaintiffs in the case argue that Montana officials fail to curb planet-warming emissions while the state pursues oil, gas and coal development, court documents show. The plaintiffs also allege the state is not doing enough to combat smoke from worsening wildfires, which they say is polluting the air, or to alleviate drought which is causing rivers to dry up that would otherwise sustain agriculture, fish, wildlife and recreation. The state claims that fossil fuel investments provide jobs, tax revenue and help meet the energy needs of residents. JUDGE CANCELS MONTANA GAS PLANT'S PERMIT OVER CLIMATE CONCERNS The state is also expected to argue extreme climate conditions have existed for centuries and that Montana makes "minuscule" contributions towards global greenhouse gas emissions, The AP reported. The case comes as the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration said earlier this month the carbon dioxide levels in the air this spring reached the highest levels in over 4 million years. BIDEN GREEN-LIGHTS AGGRESSIVE POWER PLANT EMISSIONS RESTRICTIONS, HAMSTRINGING FOSSIL FUEL GENERATION The International Energy Agency, which provides authoritative analysis and policy recommendations, said greenhouse gas emissions also reached a record last year. Judge Kathy Seeley has said she could rule in favor of the environmentalists but cannot tell the legislature how to remedy the violation. The Associated Press contributed to this report.