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‘Pine Tree Amendment’ seeks to add right to a healthy environment to Maine Constitution
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‘Pine Tree Amendment’ seeks to add right to a healthy environment to Maine Constitution

Maines ConstitutionThe environment protection is not mentioned in the current legislation.

Advocates and legislators are working together to change that. They are pushing for an amendment to state law that would guarantee the right to a healthy and clean natural world.

LD 489The Pine Tree Amendment, also known as the Pine Tree Amendment is sponsored by Sen. Chloe Maxmin (D-Lincoln), and has a bipartisan group co-sponsors. The bill was IntroducedLast year, but was carried forward to the 2022 legislative sessions.

The amendment would AddThe Maine Constitution’s Bill of Rights section contains the following: The people of Maine have the right of a clean environment and the preservation of natural, cultural and healthy aspects of the environment. These rights cannot be violated. The State must conserve, protect, and maintain the natural resources of the State, including its air, water and ecosystems, for the benefit and enjoyment of all people, including future generations.

The measure ReceivedInitial approval by the Maine House in 2021. It is currently awaiting an enactment voting in that chamber. This will require two-thirds support since it was introduced. Would you amend?The constitution. Maxmin stated that the Pine Tree Amendment would be passed if it is passed. It would then go to the Appropriations & Financial Affairs Committee for funding, and then onto the Senate. The Senate would need a two thirds vote. It would then be submitted to the voters as an election measure.

The policy proposal is part of an effort to secure green amendments that protect the right for all states to a healthy environment. Pennsylvania and Montana are already in the mix. Already hadSuch amendments have been in effect for decades, and New York voters approve. PassedA measure in their state was passed late last year. Along with Maine, green amendments are Active in over a dozen states.

The climate change threat continues to increase and this is why the movement is happening. 2021 was the year. Fourth WarmestThe U.S. has had the most warm year ever recorded, with six of its warmest years occurring since 2012. There were also 20 separate disasters worth billions of dollars that struck the nation last year, causing at least 688 deaths.

Maxmin stated that the Pine Tree Amendment was essential for protecting the environment of the United States now and for the future because of the reality about climate change.

She said that it gives Mainers more power to hold the government accountable and ensures that climate and environmental laws aren’t subject to political whims. I’ve seen bills introduced this session that attempt to reverse climate policies we passed last session. I think we all know how quickly policy agendas can change once we elect a new legislature and a new governor.

In November, the entire state legislature and former Republican governor will be up for election. Paul LePage, who compiles a DismalHis record in the environment during his term will likely be again on the ballot.

It’s a backstop, protection, Maxmin stated of the Pine Tree Amendment. He noted that citizens in PennsylvaniaAnd MontanaTo protect the environment from harmful practices, many states have successfully implemented green amendments.

Broad coalition behind the measure

Maxmin claimed that the bill’s original inspiration came from two constituents in her Lincoln County area who were inspired by the green amendment movement.

Andy Burt and Michelle Henkin are the Pine Tree Amendment Campaign co-coordinators. They said they reached out to Maxmin in 2019 in regards to starting such an effort here in Maine.

Burt stated that the amendment is about preventing pollution rather than regulating it. It will require government agencies and government at all levels, including planning boards, to think carefully about development and other proposals for mines and sludge on farm fields.

Burt said that the campaign has been steadily growing since its inception, with a steady flow of volunteers joining it. Henkin stated that simply educating Mainers about the fact that Mainers don’t have the right to a healthy environment was one of the strongest recruitment mechanisms for the movement.

We’ve encountered people thinking they already have this right and when they learn they dont have a legal right in a court to clean air and clean water and the basics of life, theyre pretty surprised, she said.

Youth climate activists in Maine have also supported the bill. Margaret Archibald is a Pine Tree Amendment Campaign student intern who said that including a provision in the constitution for protecting the environment was in line with Mainers’ importance of the natural world.

Archibald said that students have been involved in the campaign, which has helped to connect youth climate activists throughout the state. She said that Maine’s young people are aware that long-term environmental protection is vital for them and future generations.

Archibald stated that this is a government we are inheriting and that people are beginning to get involved in what the future holds. By supporting the Pine Tree Amendment, we can help preserve Maine as we wish it to be when we inherit it.

Anna Siegel, an activist from the group Maine Youth for Climate Justice also supports the Pine Tree Amendment. She argued that the time has come for the state to recognize and protect its land, water, and air. Siegel stated that passing the Pine Tree Amendment would be a declaration that our constitution will declare that our environment is important. This will give us a framework to view all future legislative, political, and legal activities.

Siegel stated that young people are excited about the bill’s passage because it offers a chance to update the state foundational document in a manner that reflects Maine’s current reality.

It is exciting, and it is energizing, that young people can have a voice in the State Constitution. A stereotypically old, dusty document with many 1820-era principals that no longer apply to today’s world, it is outdated and dusty. It makes sense to update our constitution. It is only right that we update our constitution. Who better than the young people who are going to inherit it?

Photo of Sen. Chloe Maxmin, second from left, at the State House with Andy Burt and Michelle Henkin. Via Facebook| Via Facebook

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