Sen. Maxmin introduces constitutional amendment to ensure the right to a healthy environment

Wed, 03/10/2021 - 7:30am

    AUGUSTA — Senator Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro, introduced Monday the Pine Tree Amendment, which would amend the state’s Constitution to ensure all Mainers have the right to a healthy environment.

    LD 489, “RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Establish a Right to a Healthy Environment,” was the subject of the public hearing before the Legislature’s Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.

    “The Maine that we know and love today is no longer guaranteed to be there in the future. The Gulf of Maine warms faster than 99 percent of the world’s oceans; our summers are drier, winters are warmer,” said Sen. Maxmin. “We know that things are changing for the worse.

    “These changes are not only devastating because of their environmental impacts. They threaten our entire economy. The livelihoods of fishermen, farmers, foresters and guides — who rely on a healthy environment to make a living — are under deep threat. This isn’t just about our natural resources. It is about standing up for our economy and our constituents. The intent of this language is to hold government accountable, to ensure that all Mainers have a right to a healthy environment.”

    LD 489 would amend the Constitution of Maine to grant the people of the state a right to a clean and healthy environment and to the preservation of the natural, cultural, recreational, scenic and healthful qualities of the environment, according to a news release. 

    “This groundbreaking bill would protect the environment for Maine people, recreational enthusiasts and workers who rely on Maine's natural resources to make a living,” the release touted. 

    This legislation has bipartisan support and is co-sponsored by House Assistant Majority Leader Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland; Rep. Bill Pluecker, I-Warren; Sen. Richard Bennett, R-Oxford; Sen. Russell Black, R-Franklin; Rep. Maggie O’Neil, D-Saco; Rep. Scott Landry, D-Farmington; and Rep. Laurie Osher, D-Orono.

    “The Pine Tree Amendment is about preserving our rights as Mainers to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment,” said Rep. Pluecker, in written testimony.. “As an organic farmer, I understand how important these resources are to the very foundation of Maine’s economy, yet we have no guarantee that our government will protect the environment that keeps Maine going. The PTA holds our government accountable and protects these fundamental rights.” 

    Similar Constitutional amendments have been passed in Pennsylvania and Montana, the release noted, and there are active proposals in New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Maryland, Kentucky, Vermont, and West Virginia, led by an organization called Green Amendments for the Generations.

    LD 489 faces further action in committee. Constitutional amendments require two-thirds approval in both the Senate and House, and approval from a majority of Maine voters.