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“Great Lakes Bill of Rights” Legislation Introduced

Wesley J. Smith
Image credit: Philroc, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons.

The “nature rights” movement continues to advance — as most people still think the proposal too ridiculous to take seriously. That’s a mistake, because the radicals who are pushing this agenda are determined to see it become the law — as it already is in three nations and more than 30 U.S. municipalities.

Now, a bill has been introduced in New York State that would create a “Great Lakes Bill of Rights.” From AB 3604 (my emphasis):

The Great Lakes, and the watersheds that drain into the Great Lakes and their connecting channels, shall possess the unalienable and fundamental rights to exist, persist, flourish, naturally evolve, regenerate and be restored by culpable parties, free from human violations of these rights and unencumbered by legal privileges vested in property, including corporate property.

The Great Lakes ecosystem shall include all natural water features, communities of organisms, soil as well as terrestrial and aquatic sub ecosystems that are part of the Great Lakes and their watersheds and connecting channels.

An Almost Unquantifiable Number

Indeed, it could also restrict fishing, recreation, sewage treatment, farming, and flood control, among an almost unquantifiable number of human uses that would be affected. For that matter, granting rights to “all natural water features” would disallow electricity-generating dams and the creation of harbors.

Other purported “rights” for the Great Lakes would include the right “to be free from toxic trespass.” And it would preclude ownership or monetization of these resources:

The Great Lakes ecosystem shall possess the unalienable and fundamental rights not to be owned, privatized or monetized. These rights shall include emancipation from all claims of vested property rights to the extent that such rights purport to allow the violation of the rights of the Great Lakes ecosystem or the people of the state of New York.

Penalties for violating the “rights” of the Great Lakes would include a $500 fine per violation — per day — and the cost of restoring affected systems, the rights of which were violated, to their natural state. Talk about bringing enterprise to a standstill!

You Think It Will Never Pass?

Before readers say it will never pass, be aware that proposals like this have already done so. Recently, Toledo voters granted “rights” to Lake ErieOrange County, Florida, voters granted “rights” to “water.” Both laws had to be overturned by hastily passed state laws. But if New York passes the bill, what then?

The time is now to recognize that only human beings and our juridical entities and associations have “rights,” and that only human beings and our associations and entities have legal standing in any court of law. Or we can chuckle at the crazies and pretend “it will never happen here” — until it does.

For those interested in the reasoning — if you can call it that — behind these kinds of proposals, here’s a video of a debate I had with Tom Linzey, the creator of the nature-rights concept. Based on the chat-room comments, I was viewed by the college students who watched as the skunk at the party for defending human exceptionalism.

Cross-posted at The Corner.