13. CLIMATE ACTION

Montana Court Says State Fossil Fuel Promotion Violated Youths’ Right to a “Clean and Healthful Environment”

Montana Court Says State Fossil Fuel Promotion Violated Youths’ Right to a “Clean and Healthful Environment”
Written by ZJbTFBGJ2T

Montana Court Says State Fossil Fuel Promotion Violated Youths …  Lexology

Montana Court Says State Fossil Fuel Promotion Violated Youths’ Right to a “Clean and Healthful Environment”

Montana State Court Rules in Favor of Youth Plaintiffs in Environmental Lawsuit

After an eight-day bench trial, a Montana state court has issued a ruling in favor of 16 youth plaintiffs, aged 5 to 22, who filed a lawsuit alleging that Montana’s Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) violated their right to a “clean and healthful environment.”

The Lawsuit and Defendants

The complaint was filed by the youth plaintiffs in March 2020 against the state of Montana, Governor Greg Gianforte, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, the Montana Department of Transportation, and the Montana Public Service Commission.

Violation of State Constitution

The youth plaintiffs argued that certain provisions of MEPA, which prevented agencies from considering the climate impact of energy projects, favored the use of fossil fuels due to Montana’s significant oil and coal industries. They claimed that this violated Montana’s state constitution, which guarantees its citizens the right to a clean and healthful environment. The plaintiffs contended that they have already suffered and would continue to suffer lifelong physical and mental health impacts, economic and cultural deprivations, and extreme weather conditions due to respiratory conditions, heat-related health problems, fear, anxiety, and stress.

Defendants’ Response

In response, the state defendants argued that Montana’s relatively small contribution to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions raised questions about the court’s ability to provide a remedy for the youth plaintiffs’ climate change-related injuries. They also argued that the revisions to the MEPA provisions should be addressed by the state legislature rather than the judiciary.

Court’s Findings and Order

The court’s order included more than 80 pages of factual findings on the sources of anthropogenic climate change, its connection to Montana’s fossil fuel industries, and its impact on the youth plaintiffs. The court concluded that allowing Montana’s administrative agencies to consider GHG emissions and climate change during MEPA review of energy projects would address the plaintiffs’ injuries and mitigate the harmful environmental effects of Montana’s fossil fuel activities. This would be achieved by reducing future GHG emissions and increasing the likelihood of rejecting projects that would unreasonably degrade the state’s environment.

Legislative Response and Injunction

In response to the youth plaintiffs’ lawsuit, Montana’s state legislature amended the MEPA provisions in question earlier this year. The amendments clarified that state agencies were prohibited from considering GHG emissions and climate impacts when reviewing projects and eliminated the possibility of preventative, equitable remedies for MEPA litigants raising GHG or climate change issues. However, the court’s order permanently enjoined these provisions as unconstitutional.

Appeal and Global Implications

An appeal is expected to be filed with the Montana Supreme Court against the court’s order. While it remains uncertain how the Montana Supreme Court will rule, the state court’s decision represents an unprecedented victory for young climate change plaintiffs. According to a recent climate change litigation report, there have been at least 34 climate change actions brought by and on behalf of children worldwide by the end of 2022. Although most of these cases have been unsuccessful so far, the Montana ruling may provide support for youth plaintiffs in several ongoing cases in the United States.

SDGs, Targets, and Indicators

SDGs Targets Indicators
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being 3.9 By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination – No specific indicators mentioned in the article
SDG 13: Climate Action 13.1 Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries – No specific indicators mentioned in the article
SDG 15: Life on Land 15.2 By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests, and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally – No specific indicators mentioned in the article
SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions 16.6 Develop effective, accountable, and transparent institutions at all levels – No specific indicators mentioned in the article

1. Which SDGs are addressed or connected to the issues highlighted in the article?

  • SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 13: Climate Action
  • SDG 15: Life on Land
  • SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

The issues highlighted in the article are connected to these SDGs because they involve the right to a clean and healthful environment, the impact of fossil fuel activities on climate change, and the role of institutions in addressing these issues.

2. What specific targets under those SDGs can be identified based on the article’s content?

  • SDG 3.9: By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination
  • SDG 13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries
  • SDG 15.2: By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests, and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally
  • SDG 16.6: Develop effective, accountable, and transparent institutions at all levels

Based on the article’s content, these targets can be identified as relevant to the issues discussed.

3. Are there any indicators mentioned or implied in the article that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets?

No specific indicators are mentioned or implied in the article that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets.

Behold! This splendid article springs forth from the wellspring of knowledge, shaped by a wondrous proprietary AI technology that delved into a vast ocean of data, illuminating the path towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Remember that all rights are reserved by SDG Investors LLC, empowering us to champion progress together.

Source: lexology.com

 

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