Children have constitutional right to a healthy environment, US court rules

Rikki Held, 22, detailed how extreme weather has hurt her family’s ranch.

“I know that climate change is a global issue, but Montana has to take responsibility for our part in that,” she told the court.

A district court in Montana ruled that a state law which prevents agencies from considering the impacts of greenhouse gases when issuing permits for  coal mining, natural gas extraction and other fossil fuel projects was unconstitutional.

Judge Kathy Seeley wrote in the ruling that Montana’s emissions “have been proven to be a substantial factor in causing climate impacts to Montana’s environment and harm and injury” to the youth.

Montana, a major coal producer, is home to the largest recoverable coal reserves in the country.

It is also is one of the few US states that has environmental protections written into its constitution, which guarantees a right to a “clean and healthful environment”.

Julia Olson, a lawyer representing the young activists, called the ruling a win “for Montana, for youth, for democracy, and for our climate”.

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