Today’s landmark decision by the Lewis and Clark County District Court marks an unprecedented triumph in the fight for climate justice, and the protection of wildlife, habitat and future generations of Montanans. We at the Montana Wildlife Federation, Montana’s oldest, largest, and most effective wildlife conservation organization, are deeply grateful to the young whose actions inspire us to redouble our commitment to climate action.
“This historic ruling is a monumental win not only for the youth plaintiffs, but for the people of Montana and the nation,” said Frank Szollosi, Executive Director of the Montana Wildlife Federation. “It affirms our constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment and sets a precedent that holds governments accountable to considering the impacts of energy projects. Today, we celebrate a victory that transcends generations, aligning with our enduring fight to conserve Montana’s natural resources and ensure a thriving environment amid the challenges of climate change.”
Judge Kathy Seeley’s ruling that the provision in the Montana Environmental Policy Act is unconstitutional resonates with our core mission. Her recognition that the plaintiffs have a “fundamental constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment, which includes climate as part of the environmental life-support system” strikes at the very heart of what we strive to preserve every day.
This victory belongs to the courageous youth of Montana who have become pioneers in a national movement that demands governments fulfill their duty to address climate change. Their efforts are not only an inspiration to us in Montana but to people around the world who are standing up for the right to live in a healthy environment.
“Montana hunters and anglers know the science and know the impacts that climate change is having on our habitat and wildlife,” Szollosi said. “These young people are correct, rising water temperatures and extreme weather are taking a toll, whether that be on westslope cutthroat trout or migrating ungulates such as mule deer. State action that fails to take into account climate science is short-sighted, wrong and constitutionally, illegal.”
By holding the state accountable for failing to consider the impacts of energy projects, we hope to see a transformative shift in policy and action not only in Montana but across the nation.
Montana’s rich natural resources should be managed responsibly to ensure they serve future generations. This ruling is a crucial step towards a sustainable future where economic prosperity and environmental stewardship go hand in hand.
“Today, Montana stands as a beacon of hope and a symbol of what determined, united action can achieve for the health of our planet and the legacy we leave for future generations.”