Climate Law

Montana Supreme Court ruled climate change science is not settled

In 2011, the Montana Supreme Court ruled:

“There is no scientific consensus [about the human effect on climate] that is sufficiently well-settled to allow a court to decide the case purely as a matter of law.” 

According to Montana attorney Quentin Rhoades, this ruling means there is no settled scientific consensus that human carbon dioxide emissions change the climate according to Montana law.

This ruling may allow Governor Gianforte and his Montana government to require Montana schools, colleges, and universities teach that nature causes climate change.

How did this ruling happen?

On May 4, 2011, attorneys Thomas Beers, Elizabeth Best, Randall Bishop, Amy Poehling Eddy, James Manley, and Gregory Munro, for Our Children’s Trust of Oregon, filed a “Petition for Original Jurisdiction” in the Montana Supreme Court.

The Petition argued:

“Petitioners respectfully petition this Court, …, to take original jurisdiction of this proceeding and enter judgment declaring (1) that the State of Montana holds the atmosphere in trust for the present and future citizens of the state of Montana, and (2) that the State of Montana has the affirmative duty to protect and preserve the atmospheric trust, including establishing and enforcing limitations on the levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as necessary to mitigate human caused climate change.”

The Petition’s goal was to overstep the authority of the Montana legislature and have the Montana Supreme Court order Montana to significantly reduce Montana’s carbon dioxide emissions, which would have cost Montana millions of dollars per year. The Petition backfired.

Notified of this Petition by Gary Marbut of Missoula, Dr. Ed Berry, Climate Physics LLC, Bigfork, Montana, hired attorney Quentin Rhoades to file an Intervention to the Petition. Then Berry organized Intervenors and climate information so Rhoades could file a successful Intervention. Details are on under Climate Law.

Berry’s theoretical work shows nature, not human emissions, controls atmospheric carbon dioxide. An experienced expert witness, he can help attorneys win climate lawsuits.


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