Amendment Support – Civic Leaders

Maryland Civic Leaders Support of the Amendment

Dear Senators and Delegates,

We, the undersigned civic leaders across Maryland, urge the Maryland General Assembly to pass the Maryland Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Human Rights that will be proposed in 2022.

The amendment would ensure that (1) each person, as a matter of human dignity, has a fundamental and inalienable right to a healthful and sustainable environment, and (2) the state, as the trustee of Maryland’s natural resources, including its air, water, lands, wildlife, and ecosystems, shall preserve them for the benefit of current and future generations.

The state of Maryland recognized that “each person has the fundamental and inalienable right to a healthful environment,” when it passed the Maryland Environmental Policy Act of 1973. Unfortunately, the Act has not been sufficiently effective.

By elevating the right to a healthful environment to the same level as such fundamental rights as freedoms of the press, religion, and speech, the Amendment will provide constitutionally based protections in addition to those set forth in existing environmental laws and regulations. The Amendment also makes explicit the State’s trustee role as a steward of our environment and the constitutional obligation to protect this right.

These principles will strengthen the basis for addressing the cumulative effects of legacy pollution that disproportionately impact many of our minority and low-income communities, and will steer Maryland toward true sustainability. They will provide a solid foundation for improved laws, regulations and programs at all levels of government, and the additional scrutiny that comes from constitutional provisions will serve as a guardrail against the most egregious forms of harmful action, protecting all Marylanders, now and in future generations.

Similar amendments have been constructive and responsible contributors to the environmental and governmental frameworks of other states (Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island) that have adopted them. New York State adopted its version of the amendment in November 2021, with 68.9 percent of voters approving it.

We ask that you support and pass the proposed Maryland Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Human Rights in 2022. Our communities, especially those that are marginalized, our children, our grandchildren, and future generations need us to act now.

Maryland Civic and Community Leaders

The Honorable Jud Ashman, Mayor of Gaithersburg
The Honorable Jacob Day, Mayor of Salisbury
The Honorable Jeffrey Slavin, Mayor of Somerset
The Honorable Kate Stewart, Mayor of Takoma Park
The Honorable Noah Waters, Mayor of Eagle Harbor
The Honorable Patrick Wojahn, Mayor of College Park
Councilman Mark Conway, Baltimore City Council, District 4
Councilman Jack Heath, President of Salisbury City Council
Councilman Izzy Patoka, Baltimore County Council
Councilmember Danny Schaible, Hyattsville City Council
Councilmember Jimmy Tarlau, Mount Rainier
The City of Salisbury Sustainability Advisory Committee
Nina Forsythe, Commissioner of Water, Parks, and Recreation, City of Frostburg
Chloe Malouf, Vice Chairperson, City of Gaithersburg’s Environmental Affairs Committee

President Terrence Sawyer, Loyola University Maryland
Barry Hill, Adjunct Professor of Law, Vermont Law School/MDEHR Advisor
Dr. Sacoby Miguel Wilson, Associate Professor, UMD School of Public Health

Nicholas DiPasquale, Director, Chesapeake Bay Program Office (retired)
Rob Etgen, Founding President, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (retired)
Willie Flowers, President, NAACP Maryland State Conference
Wayne Gilchrest, former U.S. Congressman, Maryland District 1 (retired)
Brooke Harper, Environmental Advocate
Staci Hartwell, Chair Environmental and Climate Justice Committee, NAACP Maryland State Conference
Rosa Hance, Chair, Maryland Chatper of the Sierra Club
Rachel M. Hopp, Former Federal Environmental Program Manager and Enforcement Attorney/MDEHR Advisor
Matthew Littleton, Environmental Lawyer/MDEHR Advisor
The Rev Richard D. Meadows Jr., Rector, The Historic St. James Episcopal Church
Vernice Miller-Travis, Executive Vice President, Metropolitan Group
Ava Annette Richardson, PGC NAACP Liaison
Martin Siegel, Environmental Lawyer/MDEHR Advisor
Rev. David James Ware, The Church of the Redeemer, Baltimore