NEWS RELEASE — Vermont Rights of Nature Campaign
Dec. 12, 2012
Like many, Steve Marx was astounded at the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case that gave corporations the same rights as people. Unlike most, Marx has set about doing something positive in reaction to it. With the help of the Vermont Law Schoolʼs Environmental Law Center, the Earth Law Center and a number of his fellow Strafford residents, Marx has started the Vermont Rights of Nature campaign which seeks to establish an amendment to the Vermont Constitution that would grant legal rights to Nature—giving Nature a seat at the table along with humans and corporations.
The Campaign has drafted a proposed Rights of Nature article to be voted on at Straffordʼs town meeting in March. It calls for an amendment to the Vermont Constitution that would “recognize in the law the natural, inherent and inalienable rights of forests, natural areas, waterways, and fish and wildlife populations of Vermont to exist, thrive and evolve.”
Marx feels that such an amendment would provide “an even playing field. People have rights, corporations have rights, and nature should have rights as well.” Marx does not envision the amendment as prohibiting logging or hunting, but rather ensuring that natural resources are managed in a sustainable and ecological manner.
Environmental lawyer Gus Speth, author of America the Possible, notes, “The rights of nature movement, slowly building around the nation, is an effort to carry forward the land ethic of Aldo Leopold. It would be great to see a new amendment in the State Constitution.” The country of
Ecuador has written the Rights of Nature into its Constitution, while Bolivia has developed a Mother Earth Law and submitted the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth to the United Nations, acknowledging that all people are “part of Mother Earth, an indivisible, living community of interrelated and interdependent beings with a common destiny.”
In Wild Law, published by Vermontʼs own Chelsea Green Press, South African lawyer and Rights of Nature advocate Cormac Cullinan argues that “the survival of life on Earth —including humans—requires us to fundamentally alter our understanding of the purpose of law and governance, rather than merely changing laws.”
Voters in Norwich and Thetford are working to join Strafford in putting the Rights of Nature article on their town meeting warnings. Most towns have a deadline of January 15th for putting petition articles on their warnings. Other communities interested in supporting the effort and putting the article on the warning of their town meetings can find petition forms and information at https://www.facebook.com/VermontRightsOfNature