Rights to Clean Air, Pure Water in State Constitution

March 12th, 2009

Written by Bri

by Bri

A few weeks back I thought I’d hit a lottery: the local paper was filled with news of eco-friendly projects despite the state of the economy. This week an article mentioned that the Pennsylvania state consitution was amended in 1971 to say

The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of natural, scenic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustees of these resources the commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all people.

Yet over and over again profit of a few stands against these constitutional rights. For instance, the area power company wants to add a new substation in a rural area. While expert testimony and support of municipal and county governments ask that the utility use the existing rights of way of a highway or a train corridor for the power line connections, they pursue a path through rural and natural lands for the high tension wires. A judge recently granted their request, putting aside all environmental testimony. Given the Environmental Rights Amendment I quoted above, wouldn’t you think that using corridors already developed would be a no-brainer? Why do those of us who care about these rights need to over and over again fight for these rights? Wouldn’t the brain power, personal and cultural energies, and the money be better used for developing innovation and creating (green) economies? Please let your state and local legislators know how you feel. Attend local policymaking meetings and stay informed.

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