Emory law professor says Montana's climate lawsuit has potential national implications

Montana has some of the largest coal reserves in the world. Mindy Goldstein, a clinical professor who specializes in environmental law at Emory University, says the framers of the Montana constitution aimed to adopt the strongest environmental protection provision that can be found in any state constitution.

Recently, a group of young climate activists in Montana won a lawsuit against their state government.

A judge ruled that the government failed to provide a clean environment, as guaranteed in Montana’s constitution, by supporting fossil fuel infrastructure.

“The judge in this case spent 70 pages of her 103-page ruling listing out factual findings associated with climate change,” said Professor Goldstein on Tuesday’s edition of “Closer Look.”

During the conversation, Goldstein talked with program host Rose Scott about whether the case could serve as a blueprint for activists in other states.

“While this decision may not be binding on states outside of Montana, it certainly can be influential,” said Goldstein.

The case marks the first time in U.S. history that a state supreme court judge ruled that a government has a constitutional duty to protect people from climate change.  

Montana’s attorney general has promised to appeal the case.