Climate Activists Organize for 'Green Amendment' in Maine
Monday, August 28, 2023
Youth climate activists in Maine are working to enshrine "the right to a clean and healthy environment" into their state's constitution.
It is called the Pine Tree Amendment, and activists say it is part of a growing movement nationwide, aiming to hold the government accountable for policies contributing to climate change.
Audrey Hufnagel, a high school student and organizer for Maine Youth for Climate Justice, said the amendment would be on par with the right to free speech.
"The Pine Tree Amendment also includes these rights for future generations," Hufnagel explained. "That's also very important to me as a climate activist."
Hufnagel noted she was inspired by the recent court ruling favoring Montana students, who alleged the state has violated their environmental rights by promoting the use of fossil fuels. Critics in Maine, including farming and fishing groups, argued the "green amendment" would result in endless litigation.
Climate activists said wildfire smoke and catastrophic flooding in the Northeast this summer have highlighted the urgent need for a green amendment. Hufnagel pointed out the coalition behind the effort is growing, with bipartisan and multigenerational support.
"Everyone has these different; maybe different beliefs, different places they're coming from," Hufnagel acknowledged. "But we can all kind of come together around this need for basic environmental rights, so I think that's very powerful."
Activists will need two-thirds majority support in the Maine Legislature to amend the state's constitution, but they are optimistic. Green amendments are already enshrined in the constitutions of three states, including Montana, New York and Pennsylvania.
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