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Vote in Toledo to Grant Lake Erie “Rights”

nature rights

Step by step, inch by inch.

The “nature rights” movement has come to Toledo, where citizens will vote soon on whether Lake Erie should be granted legally enforceable rights. From the story:

Here’s what the Bill of Rights says: It “establishes irrevocable rights for the Lake Erie Ecosystem to exist, flourish and naturally evolve, a right to a healthy environment for the residents of Toledo, and which elevates the rights of the community and its natural environment over powers claimed by certain corporations.”

If this becomes law, in Toledo, Lake Erie would be able to sue whenever any enterprise engaged in activities that the most radical environmentalist in the city opposed. In actuality, the radical environmentalist or organization would be the real party in interest, empowered to throw monkey wrenches into commercial and even private activities by the nonsensical notion that a geological feature has “rights.”

If there are activities that Toledo wants to forbid in and around Lake Erie, fine. Pass zoning laws. Require permits and environmental-impact analyses. Insist on remediation if the lake is polluted. State that particular actions are specifically prohibited.

But do not give a geological feature rights. Please, any Toledo readers, vote NO.

Defeating this measure is not enough. The Ohio Legislature should pass a law stating, “No non-human animal, flora, or geological feature shall have legal standing in any Ohio court, nor any enforceable rights.” Congress should pass a similar law to control such questions in the federal court system.

Better do it quickly because before you know it, “nature rights” will be adopted into a major political party’s environmental platform. Wait until that happens and it will be too late.

Photo: Lake Erie, by Nicholas [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Cross-posted at The Corner.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.



ecosystemenvironmental-impact analysisenvironmentalismgeographical featuresLake Erienature rightsOhiopollutionremediationToledozoning laws