An amendment to the Maine State Constitution has been proposed in the Legislature, LD 489. This Pine Tree Amendment seeks to guarantee “the right to a clean and healthy environment” for all people of Maine, now and for all future generations. These rights will apply equally to all people in Maine regardless of income, ethnicity, gender or age. The Constitution already grants us the right to bear arms, freedom of religion, speech and other rights. But the rights to clean air, clean water and a healthy environment are not guaranteed.
The health of Maine’s economy is dependent on a healthy fishery, forest industry, tourism and recreation. All of these rely on a healthy environment that is constantly being threatened. Laws and regulations exist to protect our environment, but these are only as good as they are enforced. As we have seen, the effective enforcement of these protections varies with changes in the legislative and executive branches. A constitutional amendment will mandate the protection of our environment by all Maine government officials. The Maine government would legally become trustees of our natural resources with all people in Maine being the beneficiaries.
Pennsylvania and Montana already have such a constitutional amendment. Citizens in both states have used their green amendment to prevent environmental devastation from powerful interests wanting to extract natural resources to the detriment of local communities. Maine needs to pass the Pine Tree Amendment to ensure that all of us, and all future generations, can enjoy the wonderful clean air, clean water and healthy environment that we love.