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The Green Amendment

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“We do not recognize and protect our rights to a healthy environment in the constitution in the Bill of Rights section where we actually need to be recognizing and protecting those rights if we really want to give them the greatest level of legal protection in this country that you can get.”

Maya Van Rossum served as the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network since 1994. She is the author of The Green Amendment: Securing Our Right to a Healthy Environment, which lays out a new agenda for environmental advocacy, one that she says will empower people, level the playing field, and provide hope for communities everywhere.

“The book is really about inspiring communities to pursue a constitutional amendment that protects their right to pure water, clean air and a healthy environment. And honors and protects those rights not just anywhere in the state constitution, but in the Bill of Rights section of the constitution, so that the right to a healthy environment is recognized and protected on par with those other fundamental freedoms we hold dear like the right to free speech and the right to freedom of the press, and the right to freedom of religion. The fact of the matter is that while people believe in their hearts that they have the right to clean air, clean water and a healthy environment and a stable climate, when it comes to the law in the United States of America, for the most part that’s absolutely not the case. We do not recognize and protect our rights to a healthy environment in the constitution in the Bill of Rights section where we actually need to be recognizing and protecting those rights if we really want to give them the greatest level of legal protection in this country that you can get.”

In 2016 Colorado voters approved Amendment 71, the Raise the Bar amendment, which makes it harder to amend Colorado’s Constitution

Rossum says that For decades, activists have relied on federal and state legislation to fight for a cleaner environment. And for decades, they’ve been fighting a losing battle. She says that getting an environmental rights amendment in the Bill of Rights section of the constitution is the right approach to take “Particularly today, people understand the constitution, they understand what it means to have an inalienable right to something, they understand that if something is recognized in the Bill of Rights section of the constitution, the right to free speech, and government oversteps and infringes on those rights then they become true patriots when they rise up and defend those rights, and I think we need to have the same mindset when it comes to the environment.”

Maya Van Rossum will speak about the Green Amendment on Wednesday January 31st at 7.30pm at the Boulder Bookstore.