Environmental Rights Amendment: Momentum is Building

New York is poised to be the seventh state to adopt an amendment in their state constitutions that protects the right to a healthful environment. The New York state legislature passed their environmental rights amendment for the second consecutive year. (New York requires passage in two consecutive legislative bodies to send the amendment to the ballot in the next General Election.) New Yorkers will have the opportunity to vote on approving the environmental rights amendment this November. You can read the full article here.

There are currently 12 states, including Maryland, pursuing adding a constitutional amendment to protect environmental rights. In New Mexico, an environmental rights amendment resolution passed the state Senate Rules Committee on a party-line vote last month. If the legislation clears both chambers, it would go to voters in 2022. You can read the full article here.  

What does this mean for Maryland?

Seeing other state legislatures pass environmental rights amendments means what MDEHR is asking for in Maryland is possible and achievable. If it can be done in other states, it can be done here. 

As more states pass environmental rights amendments, the opposition’s strategy of opposing an amendment on the grounds of fear becomes less powerful. Other states have taken a look at what this means and the majority of their legislatures have seen that the advantages of the amendment outweigh any perceived negatives. Many other states like Maryland rely on their natural resources (eg. The Chesapeake Bay) for tourism and for the economy. The reality is that a flood of litigation has not occurred in any of the states that have these amendments in place. The reality is that local and state governments are using the environmental rights amendment to their advantage in how they manage and protect their local natural resources.   

MDEHR can learn from the efforts in other states in building support for this constitutional amendment. New York State’s efforts grew out of the fight against PFAS polluting their waterways and the realization that the fundamental right to clean water was not protected. Not surprising, PFAS contamination is also an issue in our Chesapeake Bay watershed affecting our drinking water, seafood, and oysters, as recently reported by the Bay Journal. The Maryland General Assembly is reviewing the PFAS Protection Act. MDEHR supports this effort, for PFAS contamination also confirms the need to protect the fundamental right to a healthful environment for all, because the health of current and future Marylanders depends on it.

How can you help in Maryland?

MDEHR continues to educate our state representatives, local governments and the public about the need to protect our right to a healthful environment in Maryland. You can help us in the following ways.

  1. Invite MDEHR to present at your next community or faith group gathering

MDEHR is continuing to educate Maryland residents about the need to protect our right to a healthful environment. We thank the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland for letting us speak at Episcopal Advocacy Day last week. We need help getting the word out and would appreciate the opportunity to speak at your next community or faith group gathering. Contact nina@mdehr.org for more information. 

  1. Share Your Personal Stories about Environmental Degradation and Injustice

The Maryland Campaign for Environmental Human Rights (MDEHR) is focused on achieving the goals of environmental health, public health, and environmental justice. To that end, MDEHR is looking for people to share their stories about environmental degradation and injustice on video. The goal of these videos is for people to share their personal stories of how the state of the environment has affected their lives, and to speak to why the right to a healthful environment is important to them. 

These videos can be any length and will be fundamental in our efforts to educate about why passing a Maryland Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Human Rights is critical for current and future generations. If you have a story to share, please contact Madeline Buscone at mebuscone@loyola.edu. 

  1. Follow MDEHR on Twitter and Instagram

Communications Intern, Madeline Buscone is growing our following on Instagram and Twitter. Please follow us and share our posts on your social networks and help educate Maryland about their right to a healthful environment.