Lawsuit pits young climate change activists against a fossil fuel-friendly state at trial

June 13, 2023 -HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Young people challenging Montana officials over inaction on climate change are expected back in state court on Tuesday in a first-of-a kind trial of a lawsuit that environmentalists hope will spur changes in the fossil fuel-friendly state.

State officials have sought to downplay Montana’s contributions to global warming as the trial that opened Monday is being closely watched for possible legal precedents even though the scope of the lawsuit has been narrowed in earlier rulings.

The trial is scheduled to last two weeks with 16 young plaintiffs and their attorneys seeking to persuade District Judge Kathy Seeley that the state’s allegiance to fossil fuels endangers their health and livelihoods and threatens future generations.

Grace Gibson-Snyder, 19, of Missoula, Montana — one of the plaintiffs — told the court that smoke from wildfires has gotten worse with climate change and become a “defining experience” of playing soccer in high school. The smoke regularly shrouded her hometown in unhealthy air, forced practice cancellations and kept teammates with asthma from taking the field.

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