In the news
In 2020, Rikki Held joined 16 other young people in Montana to file a lawsuit against the state for violating their constitutional rights to a clean and healthful environment by contributing to climate change through its continued extraction of fossil fuels.
Rikki Held stepped forward to become the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by Our Children’s Trust — a not-for-profit law firm that specializes in environmental cases — suing the state of Montana for violating its own constitutional guarantee that it would provide citizens “a clean and healthful environment.” The case, Held v. State of Montana, was the first constitutional and the first youth-led climate lawsuit to go to trial in the U.S., and it resulted in a historic ruling — one that could provide a road map for similar efforts. On Aug. 14, the Montana District Court sided with Held and her fellow young plaintiffs, ages 5 to Held’s 22. It is now up to Montana’s legislature to bring its laws in line with the state constitution.
She is only one of three Montana women to make Time magazine’s “Time100 Next” list, touting them as “the world’s rising stars.” Actor Lily Gladstone, environmental activist Rikki Held and Missoula Democratic Rep. Zooey Zephyr are featured in the Sept. 25 edition of the magazine now celebrating its 100th year. Sam Jacobs, Time’s editor in chief, said the list was assembled through research and reporting from across the magazine’s “global network of editors and correspondents.” The list was described by Jacobs as an opportunity to show what society’s future and future leaders will look like.
Her father, Steve, said in a telephone interview Tuesday that “It’s been unbelievable,” he said, adding his daughter shuns the limelight. “I have been more excited about it than she has.” Steve Held said his daughter does not take credit or claim for any of her accomplishments. “It is just so not her,” he said, “but the effort to do the right thing is definitely 100% her.”
Rikki was not available for comment, her father said, because she was already in Kenya in Training for the Peace Corps.