Maryland Constitutional Amendment
for Environmental Human Rights
House Hearing: January 20, 2021
Senate Hearing: January 26, 2021
“Every person has the fundamental and inalienable right to live in a healthful environment, including clean air, water, land, and a stable climate.”
“The state is a trustee of Maryland’s natural resources, which shall be protected, preserved, and enhanced for the benefit of all of the people of this state including future generations.”Environmental Human Rights Amendment – pre-filed and proposed amendment language
Why is an Environmental Human Rights Amendment Needed?
In 1973, the Maryland Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) recognized that “everyone has the right to live in a healthful environment”. Many state agencies have failed to enact rules to enforce this right.
Unfortunately, as a result, too often the interests of private industry are prioritized over the health of Maryland’s residents. For example, according to research conducted by students at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 200 pollution emitting facilities were concentrated in a 2.5-mile radius in South Baltimore.1,2 This concentration of pollution leads to unjust health disparities in South Baltimore, including asthma hospitalization rates 4 times the rate of the Maryland average.3,4 References here.
What will an Environmental Human Rights Amendment do?
Embedding the right to a healthful environment in the Declaration of Rights Section of the Maryland Constitution will…
- Protect these rights for Marylanders today and for future generations
- Require the state to protect these rights
- Provide a legal rationale for passing environmental legislation to protect public and environmental health
Learn more about how an EHR amendment could be applied in Maryland here.
Everyone deserves the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment. Everyone. Yet our laws do not currently protect this right. We can change that.
Write your state representative to ask for their support of HB82/SB151 – the Maryland Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Rights. The amendment will protect the rights of all Marylanders to live in a healthful environment, including clean air, water, land, and a stable climate. It will also recognize the state as trustee of Maryland’s natural resources. Protecting everyone’s right to live in a healthy environment in our state constitution and requiring the state to protect those rights resets the priority of the government to put the health of the public first.