Elizabeth Shwe reported in Maryland Matters that Senate President Ferguson and Speaker Adrienne Jones are establishing a Maryland State Parks Investment Commission to assess equitable access to current state parks and explore opportunities to develop new parks in underserved areas. “Public outdoor spaces are essential to Marylanders’ emotional, mental, and physical health and bring people of all walks together, Ferguson said in a statement. Geographic location, race, or income should not limit a person’s ability to enjoy these benefits, and it is critical that we expand these public spaces that protect Maryland’s rich natural resources.” You can read the full article here.
The Maryland Campaign for Environmental Human Rights (MDEHR) thanks Senator Ferguson and Speaker Jones for making access to state parks a priority and investing in protecting more Maryland’s public natural resources. This is exactly the kind of environmental equity that our proposed Constitutional Amendment – Environmental Human Rights is intended to promote.
Delegate Wanika Fisher will be bringing back the bill for the Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Human Rights in 2022. The goal of this amendment is twofold: 1) to protect the human right to a healthful environment and a stable climate for everyone, regardless of zip code; and 2) to establish the government as trustee of Maryland’s public natural resources on behalf of the people of Maryland, now and for future generations.
By establishing this Commission, Senate President Ferguson and Speaker Jones are addressing an essential need of the people of Maryland. But what is missing is the legal underpinning that would require such environmental rights for everyone. The Constitutional Amendment – Environmental Human Rights would create a constitutional obligation to protect Maryland’s public natural resources and to avoid decisions that would infringe on each person’s right to a healthful environment.
The Maryland Environmental Policy Act of 1973 stated this fundamental right but the narrow limits put on this policy meant that it has largely been ignored. The Maryland General Assembly has the opportunity to change that in 2022 by passing the Constitutional Amendment – Environmental Human Rights.