AUSTIN (KXAN) — The younger generation is trying to make a difference in today’s world. You don’t have to look far to see their commitment by trying to get legislators to understand why there is a need for gun control.

Others are determined to help save the planet by doing battle on behalf of climate change.

Recently, the voices of 16 young people were heard when they challenged their state’s pro-fossil fuel policies. Part of what makes this story more interesting is that it occurred in a state where you wouldn’t necessarily think a challenge like this would happen.


The 16 range in age from 5 to 22. They filed a climate change lawsuit objecting to the state’s policies when it comes to fossil fuels. State officials tried to thwart this group’s efforts but to no avail, because a judge declared the lawsuit filed will head to trial.

A win for the good guys.

The trial will be heard in Helena. Climate law experts say it would be the first of its kind. Its significance cannot be understated at a time when the United States trails many countries when it comes to climate legal action.

There is one caveat the young people had to realize. Their victory wouldn’t make any change to their state’s mandates immediately.

The Montana Attorney General’s attempt to derail the plaintiff’s lawsuit included asking the judge to not listen to any part of the state’s canceled energy policy in addition to buying more time to make a case that allows state officials to turn a blind eye to the emissions belched out by greenhouse gas when approving fossil fuel projects.

Emissions polluting the air at a power plant

The judge essentially said no to the defendants’ requests.

So, the plaintiffs want to combat this as part of their case by highlighting the dangers brought about by those emissions. They, along with their supporters want to make the case that said emissions are putting our climate in danger, not just in Montana, but across the world.

The case has been ongoing for three years with help from Our Children’s Trust. The environmental group is a non-profit law firm working solely to secure the legal rights of today’s youth to a healthy environment. Their work since 2010 has included filing climate legal action in every state with many of them, unfortunately, being dismissed.

At issue here is a state policy that promotes fossil fuels, including coal. An attorney for the plaintiff says this policy defies previous protections by the state’s Constitution. That mandate is, in part, that the state will maintain a healthy environment for all generations.

Environmental groups across the country and across the world will be keeping a close eye on this, not just because of the ages of the young plaintiffs but also of the need to enact reforms in how states treat the environment.

The trial is expected to start on June 12th in Helena when young children will rise up in support of clean air for their state. This may have a long-reaching effect for other like-minded children to initiate legal action in other states, and in all corners of the world.

Finally, to quote Margaret Mead, “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”