Montana must take further efforts to protect the state and its residents from climate change, a state district judge ruled Monday in a historic decision for youth climate plaintiffs that cited a state constitutional right to a clean environment.
The ruling invalidated a pair of Montana laws prohibiting state agencies from considering the effects of greenhouse gas emissions in policy decisions; it did not describe specific steps for the state to take, but it opens the door for officials to consider climate impacts in future policy decisions, including on energy and mining projects, or efficiency and emissions standards.
Montana’s constitution explicitly guarantees the right to “a clean and healthful environment” – one of only three states to do so – but the clause had largely gone unenforced, and the plaintiffs argued the state’s reliance on fossil fuels and their production was at odds with that constitutional guarantee.
The Montana attorney general’s office said it plans to appeal, calling the ruling “absurd” that was based on “legal theory has been thrown out of federal court and courts in more than a dozen states.”
Similar cases are moving forward in Oregon and Hawaii.
ETFs: (NYSEARCA:XLE), (NYSEARCA:XLU), (ICLN), (QCLN), (PBW), (PBD), (ACES), (CNRG), (ERTH), (SMOG)
More on proposed climate change legislation: