June 26, 2022


The amendment to the Maine Constitution authorised by voters earlier this thirty day period with 61 p.c of the vote establishes a “natural and unalienable appropriate to develop, increase, harvest, make, and eat the foods of their individual selecting.” This is a commendable addition to Maine citizens’ present simple 24 legal rights enumerated in Posting I of our structure. The amendment grew out of the meals security movement in Maine, and now it will be remaining to the courts to determine the useful which means of the modification.

The Salt Marsh Path in Gouldsboro potential customers to numerous lookouts with sights to West Bay. “Maine’s heritage makes apparent that, without powerful rules and enforcement, companies and people today will pollute if they believe that a profit is to be experienced,” Roger Bowen writes. Carey Kish image

Mainers, and not simply just the libertarians between us, should really applaud this new appropriate. We really should, however, also request ourselves whether a logically prior “natural and unalienable right” to a thoroughly clean and secure surroundings must also be included to our structure. Right after all, if our waters are polluted and our soils are contaminated by contaminants, then growing crops and raising livestock grow to be a fool’s errand that correctly undermines the modification about suitable to food.

We can cite a precedent: The Human Legal rights Fee of the United Nations voted unanimously last thirty day period to recommend that the Basic Assembly adopt as a “basic human right” a “healthy and sustainable natural environment.” If accredited, then environmental legal rights could be additional to the Universal Declaration of Human Legal rights, first adopted in the late 1940s and spearheaded by Eleanor Roosevelt.

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As it occurs, we also have floating in Maine’s legislative ether one more recommended modification to our constitution: the Pine Tree Modification (L.D. 489), which is getting championed by Rep Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro, and supported by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. It reads, “The Condition shall conserve, secure, and retain the State’s purely natural methods, including but not confined to, its air, h2o, land, and ecosystems for the benefit of all individuals, which include generations to appear.” The proposed modification was described out of the Pure Sources Committee in a bipartisan 9-4 vote in favor.

Unlike the foods amendment, the suitable to a thoroughly clean and safe environment will be less captivating to the libertarians mainly because it will involve potent government assist in its implementation by restrictions, policies, forms and qualified enforcement. Maine’s background helps make crystal clear that, devoid of sturdy laws and enforcement, businesses and individuals will pollute if they feel a earnings is to be had, if the danger of staying caught is minimum and if anti-air pollution polices are not codified and commonly disseminated as element of a forceful advertisement campaign.

The rubber satisfies the highway, however, when the foodstuff amendment and the proposed natural environment modification are in conflict. One particular instance, near to home, is American Aquaculture’s plan to raise hundreds of hundreds of salmon in soccer discipline-sized pens in Frenchman Bay. If the “fish factory” is constructed, the salmon will become major polluters and diesel gas will be burned 24/7 in get to power vacuums that get rid of some (but much from all) effluent and the barges and vehicles that every day transport the captured effluent, as well as the captured fish, for processing in Prospect Harbor. Lobster fishers dread that the traces to their traps will be severed by barges Acadia National Park fears guests will see the fish manufacturing facility as an eyesore, and community residents fear the sounds and air air pollution that will with out query be brought on by American Aquaculture.

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Does the appropriate to expand food items increase similarly to American Aquaculture as properly as little-scale lobstering in the bay? Whose appropriate to harvest food items has priority? And which operation is most environmentally welcoming?

In such cases, a constitutional ideal to a cleanse and secure natural environment, if regarded as a logically prior correct, should really trump food stuff legal rights, or at the very least distinguish among competing enterprises in terms of which is least probably to damage the environment.

Food items safety is a human right, and Maine’s citizens have enshrined this suitable in our structure. We need to adhere to match, and shortly, to elevate the proper to a balanced and sustainable environment to turn out to be the 26th Modification to our point out constitution.

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