Friday, October 27, 2023

We Have Constitutionally Guaranteed Environmental Rights - But What Are We Leaving Our Kids?

By Carol Hillestad,
Pocono Heritage Land Trust

Of all the states in the Union, only a handful promise their citizens a livable environment. Pennsylvania’s guarantee is one of the strongest--

“The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment.”

Beautiful words. Self-evident values. Everyone wants these things for themselves, for their children and grandchildren. And yet, what are we actually doing?

We’re still using oil and gas like there’s no tomorrow. 

We promote fast fashion that turns one minute’s trendy jeggings into landfill waste that lasts for lifetimes. 

We turn a blind eye to single-use plastic bags, straws and packaging — whose useful life may be less than an hour, but whose tiny, indestructible bits and pieces will invade air, soil, water, and our great-great-grandchildren’s very bodies.

Warehouses suffocate the land, with our officials’ blessing. 

The trees that used to pump carbon out of the air and oxygen into it on that land are gone. 

Bears, birds, mushrooms, salamanders, the whole intricate web that nature depends on — gone. 

The daily natural beauty we took for granted — gone. 

Manmade water “control” systems support zero plant and animal life, require constant maintenance, and regularly stress creeks and groundwater.

Maybe you think all the talk about “climate change” and “the environment” is just hype.

The kids disagree. 

And all across America, they’re stepping up to protect themselves and their future by petitioning state governments to back their constitutional guarantees with action. 

Just this August, a group of young plaintiffs won their court case in Montana: The judge found that “young people have a fundamental right to a climate system that is safe and stable for their lives.”

Will more states and courts follow? Time will tell.

PHLT Isn’t Waiting

Pocono Heritage Land Trust isn’t waiting to see what others will do. 

PHLT permanently conserves forested land that protects clean, drinkable water, natural views, and pure, breathable air. 

Many of PHLT’s preserves are open to the public for hiking, fishing, hunting, and simply being in nature.

If you’d like to help, become a member of PHLT.  And just say “no, thanks” to that plastic straw.

Pocono Heritage Land Trust owns and manages nature preserves throughout Monroe County. One is likely near you! 

Our preserves have walking trails, creeks and wetlands that children of all ages and their grownups are welcome to explore. 

Find trail maps at the Pocono Heritage Land Trust website.

 Interested in finding out about conserving your land? Call Louise Troutman, PHLT executive director, at 570-424-1514.

The People's Environmental Rights In PA

More than 50 years ago, three out of four Pennsylvanians voted to make the people’s right to a clean environment part of our constitution.

Since then, the state Supreme Court has ruled that the Commonwealth has two duties: “to prohibit the degradation, diminution, and depletion of our public natural resources” whether by the state itself or private parties, and “to act affirmatively via legislative action to protect the environment.”  Read more here.

And Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment has been successfully used in several recent cases — know hope!

For more information on land conservation, upcoming events and how you can get involved, visit the Pocono Heritage Land Trust website.  Explore Our Nature Preserves.   Follow them on FacebookClick Here to sign up for email updates (bottom of page).

Founded in 1984, Pocono Heritage Land Trust is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the natural heritage of the Pocono Mountains region by conserving land and inspiring people to care for, enjoy, and explore their natural world.

(Photo: Kids deserve safe water, natural beauty, and a livable world.)

[Posted: October 27, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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