We Need to Recognize Environmental Rights as Inalienable Human Rights In Our Constitutions
United Nations officials visiting communities in California and Alabama have been shocked by the level of environmental degradation and poverty they have witnessed. As one investigator recounted: “raw sewage flows from homes through exposed PVC pipes and into open trenches and pits.”
The fact is, in the United States of America, while people believe in their hearts that they should have a right to clean water, air, soils and foods, the laws as written do not agree with them. Across the nation gun rights — and even gambling rights in some states — receive the highest level of constitutional protection while the right to clean water, clean air, and a healthy environment does not.
Because living in a healthy environment is not recognized as a fundamental freedom like the right to free speech and freedom of religion, conservative governors, legislators and the anti-environment President Donald Trump can continue to pass or roll back laws that allow toxic contaminants to be dumped into our water, air, and environment in sacrifice to corporate greed and profits. And while we all suffer, it is the black, Hispanic, Native American and poorer working class communities that increasingly find themselves living in targeted environmental sacrifice zones.
But there is a pathway to change this. We can pass constitutional provisions that recognize our right to pure water, clean air, and a healthy environment as inalienable rights — as a fundamental freedom that receives the highest level of protection under the law. These green amendments to our constitutions will ensure that all of us — even the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities — have a recognized right to breathe clean air and drink clean water. And that this right must be equitably recognized and protected by every government official.
How we get there is the subject of The Green Amendment, my new book. I really believe we can provide true and meaningful protection to our environment using our constitutions — but we have to get to work now, right away. Communities are suffering and we are inflicting irreparable harm. I hope you will consider reading my new book The Green Amendment. You can get the audio book for free.
If you do purchase a copy, every penny goes to environmental protection and securing constitutional protection for environmental rights. This book is not about making money for anyone, it is about saving the world for everyone.
Let’s make the right to clean water, pure air, and a healthy environment a reality for everyone. Let’s get green amendments into our state and federal constitutions.