Sixteen young people sued the State for violating their constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment due to its promotion of a fossil fuel-driven energy policy, and preventing agencies from considering the carbon footprint of new projects up for permitting. This trial, held June 12-20 in Helena, was the first-ever constitutional climate trial and the first-ever children’s climate trial in U.S. History.
The BCAG board and 22 members showed support for the youth by attending. Expert witnesses gave great lessons in climate science. This PBS video of an interview with the plaintiff Claire Vlases lays it all out really well.
A ruling from Judge Seeley that Montana has violated its Constitution by ignoring climate impacts could help build momentum behind other similar legal actions. Our Children’s Trust currently has youth-led legal actions pending in Florida, Hawaii, Utah, and Virginia. Canada, India, Mexico, Pakistan, and Uganda also have cases.
A federal lawsuit, Juliana v United States, with 21 young Americans, has been in process since 2015, overcoming numerous motions to dismiss. The plaintiffs assert that the government’s fossil fuel energy system and its actions that cause climate change violate the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as their rights to essential public trust resources like air and water. On June 1, Federal Judge Ann Aiken of the U.S. District Court in Oregon granted the young plaintiffs’ motion to amend their complaint, putting their case back on track to trial. However, on June 22, two days after the conclusion of the Montana trial, the Department of Justice filed yet another motion to dismiss Juliana v. United States. Our Children's Trust is asking everyone to join the "People vs Fossil Fuels" coalition and to directly email Attorney General Merrick Garland right away, urging him to end DOJ opposition to Juliana v. U.S. proceeding to trial!
For more information, go to Youth v. Gov.