Environmental Human RightsEnvironmental Justice

Campaign Update: House and Senate Sponsors Pre-File the EHR Amendment

This edition of the MDEHR Campaign Update will cover the following topics:

  • The House and Senate Sponsor of the EHR (Environmental Human Rights) Amendment
  • Pre-filing the EHR Amendment and the Amendment Language
  • UMD Environmental Law Clinic Webinar on Environmental Justice State Law
  • Faith Communities Learn about Environmental Justice

Delegate Wanika Fisher Sponsors the Environmental Human Rights (EHR) Amendment

The Maryland Campaign for Environmental Human Rights (MDEHR) is pleased to announce that Delegate Wanika Fisher is the lead House sponsor for the Environmental Human Rights (EHR) Amendment in the 2021 General Assembly.  We are in a moment when there is increased visibility on the inequities of systemic racism in all areas of life, including the systemic exposure to pollution of black and brown communities. Delegate Wanika Fisher represents district 47B in Prince George’s County and is an attorney, having served as the Assistant District Attorney in Prince George’s County in 2017. She is the Assistant Majority Leader in the House of Delegates and serves on the Judiciary Committee. She is a member of the Legislative Black Caucus and the Maryland Legislative Asian-American Pacific Islander Caucus.   

Senator Obie Patterson is the lead Senate Sponsor for the EHR Amendment

MDEHR is pleased to announce Senator Obie Patterson as the lead sponsor in the Senate. Senator Patterson represents District 26 in Prince George’s County. Senator Patterson is the Deputy Majority Whip and serves on the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, and the Senate President’s Advisory Work Group on Equity and Inclusion. Senator Patterson is a former member and vice-chair of the Prince George’s County Council and a former Delegate in the Maryland House of Representatives.

House and Senate Sponsors Pre-filed the EHR Amendment based on MEPA

The Environmental Human Rights (EHR) Amendment was submitted to Bill Drafting on October 30 in the House by Delegate Wanika Fisher and in the Senate by Senator Obie Patterson.  Senators and Delegates were encouraged to pre-file their bills for the 2021 General Assembly in light of the pandemic impacting next year’s session. The deadline to submit to Bill Drafting was November 1, 2020.  

The amendment language has been simplified for the 2021 session. The amendment has two main points and uses language from the Maryland Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) which was approved by the General Assembly in 1973. 

  • Each person has a fundamental and inalienable right to a healthful environment, including clean air, water and land, a stable climate, and to the preservation, protection, and enhancement of the ecological, scenic, and historic values of the environment.  
  • The State has a duty as trustee to protect, preserve and enhance  the air, land, water, living and historic resources for the benefit of the people of this State including future generations.

University of Maryland Environmental Law Clinic Webinar on Environmental Justice State Law

The University of Maryland Environmental Law Clinic is conducting a webinar about recent state activity on environmental justice law on Friday, November 6. The webinar focuses on two areas: (1) recent state environmental justice laws and (2) how the courts have interpreted different states’ approaches to environmental constitutional amendments. Two students in the clinic, Johanna Adashek, and George Rice share their research and provide insights and analysis on these two focus areas. A link to the recording will be posted at www.medhr.org/actions and on the MDEHR YouTube channel.

Faith Communities Learn about Environmental Justice

Working in collaboration with the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council and its members Green Grace, the environmental mission of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, and the DE-MD (ELCA) Lutheran Synod, the Maryland Campaign for Environmental Human Rights has been hosting a free, virtual 5-week training program on Environmental Justice. About 100 people from inter-faith communities and individuals interested in environmental justice, climate justice, and advocacy engaged in the opening session with Tamara Toles O’Laughlin who is the North American Director for 350.org and who spoke about the history of environmental justice and a shared framework for moving forward. Rebecca Rehr, the Director for the Climate Health Program for ecoAmerica led the second session about environmental health disparities and climate solutions based on equity and justice. In the fourth session, Brooke Harper, the Regional Campaign Strategist for 350.org talked about ways to engage as an advocate on climate justice issues and key climate issues in the upcoming 2021 session. For recordings of previous sessions, visit www.mdehr.org/ej-training-program or you can watch these sessions on the MDEHR YouTube channel here

As MDEHR prepares for the 2021 General Assembly and legislative action in support of the EHR Amendment, we ask you to sign up for email updates in Action Network. We will be using Action Network to coordinate letter and call campaigns in support of the amendment and other legislation that supports the three goals of environmental health, public health, and environmental justice. Sign up for email updates in Action Network here. 

MDEHR can not do this work alone and we appreciate your support as we prepare to bring the environmental human rights amendment to the 2021 General Assembly.