Last week a judge in Montana ruled in favor of a group of young people who accused state agencies of violating their constitutional right to a clean and healthy environment by allowing drilling for fossil fuels, CBS News reported.
In a case that will likely be overturned on appeal, District Court Judge Kathy Seeley found the state policy to evaluate requests for drilling permits without allowing agencies to evaluate their impact on the climate, unconstitutional.
In her ruling, Seeley claimed that it has been “proven” that emissions in Montana are “a substantial factor” in climate change in the state that is causing harm and injury to Montana youth.
However, the judge’s decision leaves it up to the Montana legislature to determine how to alter the policy to comport with her ruling. But since the legislature is controlled by Republicans, there is little chance that any legislation will be forthcoming.
The lawsuit was brought by Oregon environmental group Our Children’s Trust on behalf of plaintiffs as young as 5. The group has filed similar lawsuits in every other state in the country since 2011, hoping to find a judge radical enough to go along with it.
After Judge Seeley took the bait, executive director Julia Olson described the ruling as a “huge win” for “democracy,” the climate, and “youth.”
Montana plans to appeal the ruling.
Emily Flower, the spokeswoman for state Attorney General Austin Knudsen described Seeley’s ruling as “absurd” but “not surprising” coming from a judge who allowed Our Children’s Trust to stage a “weeklong taxpayer-funded publicity stunt” disguised as a trial.
Flower noted that even the expert witnesses called by the plaintiffs agreed that Montana “has no impact on the global climate.” She noted that the legal theory used in the trial has already been thrown out in over a dozen state courts and federal court.
Flower maintained that the case would have been thrown out in Montana as well if the plaintiffs had not found “an ideological judge” who would bend over backward to permit the case to go forward to “earn herself a spot in their next documentary.”