Environmentalists gathered at Barry University School of Law in Orlando for a day of inspirational thoughts about creating a paradigm shift from our current western legal system. After opening remarks by Patricia Siemen, Director for the Center for Earth Justice and Leticia Diaz, Dean of the Barry University School of Law, the morning was filled with excellent presentations by Bill Belleville, Robert Knight, Neil Armington, and Rob Williams. When these people talk, you always learn something new. After lunch the program was dominated by Natalia Greene from Fundacion Pachamama and Mari Margil, the Associate Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. Ms Greene described how Ecuador authorized a new state constitution in 2008, which includes the following Rights of Nature. (These Rights are stated an abbreviated form.)
Article 71. Nature (or Pachamama) has the right to exist.
Article 72. Nature has the Right to Restoration.
Article 73. The State will restrict activities that can lead to extinction of species.
Article 74. Communities have the right to wellbeing.
Ms Margil continued the discussion by first explaining that regulation has failed in the United States because efforts to stop pollution or degradation of the environment invariably get derailed by over simplified rules that restrict the litigants ability to fight an issue. Central to the problem is Dillon’s Rule (also called preemption) that allows states to restrict laws that counties can pass. For example, In 2012 the State of Pennsylvania passed a law forbidding counties to forbid fracking. (Despite such a law the City of Pittsburgh has passed its own anti-fracking ordinance.) In Florida the Sierra Club is fighting to allow counties to pass regulations that restrict the use of fertilizers more than the state. It would be an understatement to say that the approximately 60 people in the audience were not in awe of the accomplishments of these two ladies.
Post and Photos by Dave Wilson