By Cecilia Cress
A Resolution of Support for the Maryland Campaign for Human Environmental Rights has been submitted to the Washington College Senate on Nov. 16.
Secretary of Service and Community Relations Maegan White,and Secretary of the Environment Alexa Venturato submitted the Resolution.
“The Environmental Rights Resolution was this partnership between myself and the secretary of service, Maegan White. We’re working with an outside bipartisan lobbying group that is trying to petition the Maryland State Legislature to make a healthful environment a human right in Maryland,” Venturato said.
The Resolution outlines that the Maryland Campaign for Human Environmental Rights believes certain amendments should be made to the Maryland Constitution to ensure a “healthful environment” is advocated for and actively protected in Maryland.
“Each person, as a matter of human dignity, has a fundamental and inalienable right to a healthful environment,” according to the Resolution. “State of Maryland, as a trustee, shall conserve, manage and enhance Maryland’s natural and cultural resources including the air, land, water, and ecosystems for the benefit of both present and future generations. The creation of the constitutional amendment would guide future legislation and regulations, improve environmental and public health, and give an avenue for residents of Maryland to address and correct environmental injustice and degradation issues.”
The document also mentions the already existing Maryland Environmental Policy Act of 1973, and why more amendments still need to be made: “The Maryland Environmental Policy Act of 1973 states that ‘each person has a fundamental and inalienable right to a healthful environment,’ but this law did not create legal standing for the law to be enforceable and effective. However, the addition of a constitutional amendment that recognizes these rights would create the legal precedent and backing to protect the environmental rights of all Marylanders.”
Venturato described the goal of maintaining a healthful environment as an overall agreement expressing that the Maryland Campaign for Human Environmental Rights and Washington College support the idea that no person should be exposed to environmental factors that negatively impact their health.
“The goal is to give future court cases a legal standing upon which to say that people’s rights are being violated by the government or another entity. Healthful is kind of a broad definition…we know the standard for ‘healthful living’ is going to change in the future, so we want to provide a platform that starts off the conversation expressing that we believe that every human should be able to live without impact from pollution, mistreatment of sanitation, things like that,” Venturato said.
According to the document, WC and the Student Government Association Senate fully support this initiative to amend the Maryland Constitution.
“The WC student body is environmentally motivated to mitigate environmental degradation, address environmental injustice, and make our College and community more environmentally conscious and friendly, as demonstrated through the actions of organizations like the Student Environmental Alliance, SGA Environmental Committee, Environmental Science and Studies Department, and other environmental clubs,” the document says.
Venturato said there are still more steps to be taken to further this initiative.
“In the spring is when the Maryland State Legislature is actually in session…so it’s a very specific timeline where we have to do most of the work,” Ventuato said. “That’s when our group is going to go to Annapolis and do some lobbying there at the actual assembly.”
Elm Archive Photo
Featured Photo Caption: A Resolution of Support for the Maryland Campaign for Human Environmental Rights was submitted and now awaiting approval.