(Joshua Paladino, Headline USA) Our Children’s Trust filed the nation’s first climate-change lawsuit on behalf of 16 children, arguing that Montana has violated their constitutional rights by using fossil fuels.
Our Children’s Trust, as well as McGarvey Law and the Western Environmental Law Center, filed the lawsuit in March, targeting Montana, former Gov. Steve Bullock and four state executive agencies.
“Children are uniquely vulnerable to the consequences of the climate crisis, which harms Youth Plaintiffs’ physical and psychological health and safety, interferes with family and cultural foundations and integrity, and causes economic deprivations,” the environmentalist groups wrote in the complaint.
Lawyers for Montana asked Seeley to dismiss the lawsuit in August 2021, but she ordered it to proceed.
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen condemned the environmental groups for using children as legal pawns.
Our Children’s Trust is “special interest group that is exploiting well-intentioned kids—including a 4-year old and an 8-year old—to achieve its goal of shutting down responsible energy development in Montana,” he said.
Groups representing the children argued that Montana harms one plaintiff, two-year-old Nathaniel K., because he gets frequent lung infections and has difficulty breathing, but Montana has not done enough to stop wildfires.
Nathaniel’s brother, Jeffrey, has a pulmonary sequestration that causes similar issues.
“Jeffrey and Nate are kept indoors when the air is filled with wildfire smoke and they are unable to go hiking, camping, or participate in other outdoor activities that are central to
their lifestyle, family, and overall well-being,” the complaint stated.
The complaint rests upon the assumption that Montana’s use of fossil fuels has contributed to “climate disruption,” which has increased “the length and severity of Montana’s wildfire season.”
The lawsuit blames excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, not the poor forest management practices that environmentalists have put in place.