Strafford Votes To Petition For Rights Of Nature

By Amy Kolb Noyes

Town meeting voters in Strafford have decided to petition the State for a constitutional amendment allowing for “Rights of Nature.”

Voters amended the original article, which was authored by Steve Marx, and passed the amended article on a voice vote. The language that appeared on the town meeting warning was shortened in response to concerns that the article as originally written might open the door for expensive litigation. The article as passed reads:

To see if the voters of the Town of Strafford will vote to petition, alone or with other communities, the passage of the following amendment to the Constitution of the State of Vermont:

Chapter1, Article 22 (Rights of Nature). That the natural environment of Vermont, including its forests, natural areas, surface and ground waters, and fish and wildlife populations, has certain natural, inherent and unalienable rights to clean water and air.

The language that was trimmed went on to state, “…to health uncompromised by anthropogenic substances damaging to the systems of life and to flourishing, connected habitats which support the well‐being of the flora and fauna of Vermont. Every person in this state shall have recourse to the laws for all violations of this article, with damages recurring in full to the injured environmental system to ensure its prompt restoration.”