Industry & Big Greens Stomp on Frontline Communities & Environmental Justice … Yet Again

Industry & Big Greens Stomp on Frontline Communities & Environmental Justice … Yet Again

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This page may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I have recommended. There is no additional cost to you whatsoever.

Nationwide, communities are coming collectively to demand constitutional recognition of their rights to a clear, protected, and wholesome setting, together with a secure local weather, within the type of state Green Amendments.

Green Amendments embrace explicit protection for environmental rights, together with the rights to pure water, clear air, a protected local weather, and wholesome environments. They empower environmental justice protections by means of constitutional mandates {that a} state’s pure sources and the human proper of all its individuals to wash and wholesome environments be protected equitably for all communities no matter race, ethnicity, wealth, geography, or era.

By putting these constitutional entitlements, utilizing rigorously crafted language, in a state structure’s Bill of Rights (in some states, known as its Declaration of Rights), Green Amendments guarantee that the environmental rights of the individuals are given highest constitutional standing, recognition, safety, and enforceability. At the forefront of this nationwide Green Amendment motion are states like New Mexico and Nevada, which offer classes for activists who wish to safe constitutional environmental rights safety of their state.

Environmental justice advocates, Indigenous communities, environmental leaders, and on a regular basis neighborhood members are talking in assist of Green Amendments, together with at state legislative hearings. They are speaking how air pollution from industrial operations, mining, oil and fuel extraction, poisonous contaminated websites, and the local weather disaster are inflicting their well being, households, tradition, and communities to endure.

Knee Jerk Industry Opposition Was No Surprise – But Big Green Opposition Was

When a Green Amendment was proposed in New Mexico, it was no shock that the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association opposed it. Or that the Koch Brothers-backed political motion committee (PAC), Americans for Prosperity, additionally testified in opposition.

But it was disturbing to look at this yr as so-called “clear vitality” firms marshaled opposition underneath the umbrella identify Interwest Energy Alliance (IEA) and put forth a rash of fear-mongering hypotheticals and lies in regards to the affect of a Green Amendment. They recommended that environmental rights would undermine efforts to advance clear vitality. In one breath, the business testifiers asserted they cared in regards to the setting, whereas within the subsequent they expressed their uninformed stance opposing state Green Amendments and the environmental rights and environmental justice protections they supply. IEA has gone as far as to run social media adverts in opposition to Green Amendments.

Pointing to the hypocrisy of the business’s anti-environmental lobbying, New Mexico Representative Joanne Ferrary mentioned it’s “appalling that so-called clear vitality firms can be so insecure of their capabilities to offer environmentally protected and protecting vitality era and transmission, that they might vehemently stand in the way in which of the individuals of Nevada and New Mexico with the ability to safe environmental protections as a Constitutional proper for the generations!”

But the actual shocker was that some notable Big Green organizations, together with Sierra Club National and the Union of Concerned Scientists, are members of IEA and have didn’t repudiate the anti-environmental rights messaging. It appears incomprehensible that whereas in a number of states, Sierra Club chapters are working as a part of the Green Amendments movement prioritizing efforts to safe passage of state Green Amendments, Sierra Club National is a part of this IEA business coalition actively working to oppose them. This startling contradiction in objectives undermines the work and values of Sierra Club chapters and members.

Sadly, it’s not the primary time. This state of affairs is eerily paying homage to the fracking debate, when state Sierra Club chapters have been preventing arduous to guard their communities from the ravages of fracking for fossil fuels from shale, whereas Sierra Club National advocated for the fracking industry.

polluted river near city
Does business have the suitable to deprive you and future generations of a wholesome setting? Green Amendments concentrate on defending wholesome environments together with water, air, and ecosystems.

The Truth? Green Amendments Strengthen Good Clean Energy Efforts

Green Amendments present highly effective instruments for supporting clear and renewable vitality initiatives. In the three states that at the moment have Green Amendments – Pennsylvania, Montana, and New York – we aren’t seeing the environmental rights language getting used to problem good, clear vitality initiatives. The IEA suggesting in any other case is solely fabrication.

The truth is that Green Amendments are centered on defending wholesome environments together with water, air, and ecosystems. Proposed language typically particularly consists of the suitable of all individuals to a protected and secure local weather, and that pure sources be protected for current and future generations. With such language, Green Amendments present a optimistic authorized basis to assist proactive authorities motion uplifting clear vitality progress within the close to time period. At the identical time, constitutional environmental rights within the type of Green Amendments might help stop the continued proliferation of soiled fossil gas initiatives which might be placing the environmental rights of current and future generations and environmental justice communities in grave peril.

Contrary to the fear-mongering of the IEA – Green Amendments don’t gas baseless authorized claims towards clear vitality. In truth, they might help fend off authorized challenges to well-sited and deliberate renewable energy initiatives by recognizing that environmental degradation and local weather change attributable to the extraction and burning of fossil fuels inflicts human struggling, irreversible pure sources harm, financial hurt, and generational hurt. The latest case of Held v. Montana relies on the Montana Green Amendment entitlement to a clear and healthful setting as the premise for difficult authorities motion that’s supporting the proliferation of soiled fossil fuels by rejecting the suitable or obligation of Montana state authorities to contemplate local weather change in key environmental deliberations. There is nothing within the expertise of Pennsylvania, Montana, or New York to recommend that Green Amendment protections will do something however assist the robust and wanted progress of unpolluted and renewable vitality initiatives that correctly defend our surroundings.

By recognizing and defending the rights of all individuals to wash water and air, wholesome ecosystems and setting, and a secure local weather, and complementing this recognition of particular person rights with a trustee obligation to guard the state’s pure sources for current and future generations, Green Amendments incentivize authorities assist of unpolluted and renewable vitality initiatives, and truly prioritize clear vitality over the perpetuation and ongoing creation of latest, soiled, and pointless fossil gas vitality initiatives.

Communities Need Green Amendments for Protection From Environmental Harm

Nationwide, we see numerous examples of environmental racism and communities harmed by environmental air pollution and degradation. These issues proceed to permeate regardless of the enactment of landmark environmental laws on the federal and state degree such because the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act. That is as a result of, by and huge, environmental legal guidelines concentrate on regulating air pollution and environmental degradation, quite than stopping it.

Constitutional Green Amendments that elevate environmental rights to the extent of our most treasured entitlements (akin to speech and non secular freedom) present the footing essential to strengthen environmental governance.

Green Amendments make sure that environmental safety and environmental justice are at all times given excessive precedence when authorities is taking motion. In circumstances the place current legal guidelines and laws are unable to make sure equitable safety of the rights of all individuals to wash and wholesome water, air, soils, and setting, together with a secure local weather, constitutional environmental rights offered by Green Amendments give good authorities, communities, and environmentally-minded firms the authorized energy they should safe wanted environmental protections.

If you wish to be taught extra, see what is occurring in your state, and be part of the Green Amendment motion, you’ll find all you want to know here.

What’s the Message for Environmentally & Socially Minded Businesses & Big Greens?

Communities want your partnership and proactive assist. Green Amendments guarantee environmental rights and justice are given full and truthful safety. Businesses that advance important protections, together with for the local weather, will profit in a myriad of the way – making certain greatest designed initiatives advance, securing the financial values a wholesome setting offers, and doing all your half to raised defend our communities and world.

If you stand in opposition to the passage of a Green Amendment – both by outspoken opposition or by means of silent acquiescence to the false messaging and worry mongering lies of business – then admit that you don’t care in regards to the individuals round you or future generations. IEA audio system declare that they care about defending individuals’s proper to entry and profit from clear and wholesome water, air, ecosystems and setting, and that they’re devoted to addressing the local weather disaster. I say, show it! Stand with communities throughout our nation who’re delivering the message that each one individuals deserve constitutional recognition and safety of their human proper to a clear, protected, and wholesome setting and demanding constitutional safety for these rights. Stand with the Green Amendment movement.

About the Author

Maya K. van Rossum is the founding father of the nationwide Green Amendments For The Generations motion and group, creator of “The Green Amendment, The People’s Fight For a Clean, Safe & Healthy Environment,” the Delaware Riverkeeper, and 30-year chief of the regional Delaware Riverkeeper Network.