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Environmental Law

Environmental Law and Accidents

Montana is unique in that we are blessed with an especially beautiful environment. Maybe we are just partial, but having travelled around the country and world I have yet to find a more beautiful place than Montana. It is the reason most of us live here. Whether you like to hike, hunt, fish, swim, ski, boat, or drive, Montana has everything you could want.
Montana representatives recognized the importance of protecting the beauty of Montana so much so that they decided to memorialize it in the Montana Constitution during the 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention:

Montana Constitution Article IX , Section 1

Protection and Improvement: (1) The state and each person shall maintain and improve a clean and healthful environment in Montana for present and future generations
(2) The legislature shall provide for the administration and enforcement of this duty.
(3) The legislature shall provide adequate remedies for the protection of the environment life support system from degradation and provide adequate remedies to prevent unreasonable depletion and degradation of natural resources.
Moreover, the Montana Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Montana’s Constitutional right t0 a clean and healthful environment is a fundamental right, enjoying the greatest amount of Constitutional protection. MEIC v. DEQ, 1999 MT 248.

Oil spills, gasoline spills, mining accidents, asbestos, silicosis, and railroad pollution all have left a permanent mark on Montana’s otherwise clean and healthful environment. Sometimes the pollution and carelessness can lead to actual physical human harm. This is the case with asbestos, which has killed and crippled many in Northwest Montana. Likewise, silicosis was historically a problem particularly with miners in Montana, leading to the Montana silicosis program.

On the other hand, many environmental catastrophes have caused property damage, rather than personal injury. This is the case for instance with the Anaconda and Butte mines, which have caused property damage up and down the Clark Fork drainage. It is hard to find a mine in Montana that didn’t have some sort of environmental downside. Mines are not automatically bad, but they cannot be allowed to get away with sloppy mining activities that effectively steal our beautiful clean and healthful environment.

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The information on this website is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Nothing on this website is intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with an attorney regarding your individual case.