Every person, in every generation, deserves the right to pure water, clean air and a healthy environment. Yet across Maryland, communities are threatened by an unhealthy environment — federal and state laws, as well as efforts at their enforcement and compliance, are coming up short. Despite the progress we have made, Maryland still suffers from polluted air, unhealthy water and the increasing threats posed by climate change.
And this degradation affects us all, for the connections between public health and the environment are evident. Air pollution causes millions of premature deaths every year worldwide, 1.5 million more than smoking. Just as we have constitutional rights to free speech, voting, a free press, and religion, our fundamental rights to a healthy and healthful environment should be recognized by our government. Indeed this right is recognized by over a hundred nations and a handful of states in the US.
We are building a strong coalition of communities, public health professionals, organizations, and businesses across Maryland with the goal of passing a Maryland Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Health & Justice (HB517). The Amendment would clarify the responsibility of state government to protect Marylanders, while empowering Marylanders, local communities and the state to enforce these rights. The Amendment’s enhanced protections would create a new legal safeguard against the release of pollutants like methane and carbon monoxide that accelerate climate change and toxic pollutants that threaten drinking water. The Amendment would also shore up gaps in existing laws, strengthen enforcement and compliance, and assure that everyone, no matter what zip code they live in, are equally protected from environmental degradation.
The Maryland Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Health & Justice is up for consideration on February 19th in the House Environment in Transportation Committee. State Senators and Delegates need to hear from their constituents that this Amendment is important to them. Please contact your state lawmaker today!