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Ohio State Government attacks Rights of Nature

This article summarizes the conditions under which we live.  Tish O’Dell clearly reveals the struggle between the people who rely on their environment for their very existence and the profiteering corporate “persons” who survive only on greed.  But more importantly, this article shows how our government (once thought to be of-for-and-by the people) has become mired in the same greed as the corporations whose money feeds it.

Pollution OK; Death to nature OK; Death to Democracy OK!

Here is a Press Release from Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) explaining the latest developments as the State of Ohio fights to protect the rights of corporations (with personhood rights) over the rights of the real people in Toledo who attempted to protect their water source.  Ohio claims to be defending its title as “proprietor in trust to the waters of Lake Erie” and must allow the corporate persons to engage in unlawful operations.

The Ohio Legislature’s recently passed budget bill (see other blogs this website) included an amendment that prohibits anyone, including local governments, from enforcing recognized legal rights for ecosystems.  In their great wisdom, the “people’s” representatives proclaimed that nature has no rights.  In doing that, they proclaim that “we the people” do not have the right to exist, because our very existence is tied to that of nature.

“Rights of Nature” views of William O. Douglas, Assoc. Justice, Supreme Court

Ohio Community Rights Board Member Bill Lyons presented to the Ohio House Finance Committee Written Testimony in Opposition to HB 166.  Bill’s arguments included a statement made by Assoc. U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.  Here is the specific quote:

“The critical question of “standing” would be simplified and also put neatly in focus if we fashioned a federal rule that allowed environmental issues to be litigated before federal agencies or federal courts in the name of the inanimate object about to be despoiled, defaced, or invaded by roads and bulldozers and where injury is the subject of public outrage. Contemporary public concern for protecting nature’s ecological equilibrium should lead to the conferral of standing upon environmental objects to sue for their own preservation.”  He further added, “The river, for example, is the living symbol of all the life it sustains or nourishes – fish, aquatic insects, otter, fisher, deer, elk, bear, and all other animals, including man, who are dependent on it or who enjoy it for its sight, its sound, or its life. The river as plaintiff speaks for the ecological unit of life that is part of it. Those people who have a meaningful relation to that body of water – whether it be a fisherman, a canoeist, a zoologist, or a logger – must be able to speak for the values which the river represents and which are threatened with destruction …”

 

 

Rights of Nature Under Attack

Many are undecided about whether nature has rights.  The Ohio Legislature seems to have made up its mind and therefor we have no voice in the discussion. This  Cleveland Plain Dealer article describes HB 166 dealing with the budget.  An amendment has been added declaring no one can file a lawsuit in a state court on behalf of “nature or any ecosystem.” If passed, that would nullify Toledo’s Lake Erie Bill of Rights, which allows city residents to sue on behalf of the lake to, among other things, curb farmers’ agricultural runoff that helps promote toxic algal blooms.

Whatever one personally believes about the rights of nature, the voice of the people should be heard on this matter, not the dictates of a “bought-by-corporate-money-and-influence-legislature.”

LEBOR no voice in court

Our life-sustaining ecosystem is being destroyed as we stand in chains created by our corporate-controlled government and legal system.

Here are two sources with information:  An article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer and a press release from Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund:

Judge Denies Toledoans and Lake Erie Access to Court
Denies People their Right to Defend Local Law Recognizing
Rights of Lake Erie

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 8, 2019
Contact CELDF
Tish O’Dell, Ohio organizer
tish@celdf.org
440-552-6774
Contact Toledoans for Safe Water
Markie Miller, organizer
Crystal Jankowski, organizer
SafeWaterToledo@gmail.com
419-665-3743

Toledo, OH: On Tuesday, May 7th, Toledoans for Safe Water (TSW) and the Lake Erie Ecosystem were denied their motion to intervene in the lawsuit brought by Drewes Farm Partnership of Wood County against the City of Toledo. The corporate-driven lawsuit seeks to
overturn the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR).

The people of Toledo voted on February 26th to adopt a charter amendment recognizing legal rights for Lake Erie. However, in his decision, Judge Zouhary not only refuses to acknowledge
Rights of Nature as a legal concept – he even refuses to hear arguments made in its favor.

The court allowed the State of Ohio to intervene on May 1st as a plaintiff on the side of Drewes Farms. Judge Zouhary held in his ruling that the City will amply represent the people and Lake
Erie. But neither the City law department nor its outside counsel have any experience advancing or defending Rights of Nature laws.

“We gained international recognition for advancing this groundbreaking law, but our own government refuses to recognize our rights. Our own government refuses to recognize the
environmental crises faced by Lake Erie and the 11 million human lives she sustains,” stated Crystal Jankowski, organizer with TSW.

“The courts do not have the authority to allow the
continued poisoning of Great Lake Erie, or to take away our right to protect our community.”

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) has provided legal support to the community group, assisting in drafting the LEBOR, defending Toledoans’ right to vote on the
initiative, and today defending the newly adopted charter amendment.

The group filed a stay today and plans to appeal this unjust decision.

TSW’s Markie Miller stated, “The state is once again attempting to silence the people of Toledo. First, it was the state administrative branch of government attempting to keep us off the ballot. Now it is the judicial branch keeping us out of the courtroom. But the people of Toledo won’t be going away anytime soon. Lake Erie needs our protection.”

 

The OEPA Hearing

If the OEPA were truly interested in protecting our environment, would they be limiting their process to observing the activity at one well for 72 hours?  (They held an on-site visit, maybe they learned a lot by just looking at the surrounding area.)

Don Allison’s opinion column in the March 9 Bryan Times revealed the evidence which history provides.  Quoting from a 1905 book by Thomas Mikesell titled “The County of Fulton,” the report was that “Every new fountain well diminishes the flow of those near it, and as the number of wells in a locality increases, the head is lowered. It is said by older citizens that the fountain head at Bryan has fallen several feet in their recollection, and that many wells, which originally flowed, now have to be furnished with pumps.”

The evidence is in front of our faces.  Years of use by all of us has affected the aquifer below us.  Why would anyone want to ship out 14 million gallons a day to places located miles away with abundant water supplies closer to them?  (Oh, I forgot!  There’s money to be made.)

So the OEPA is going to explain the regulatory process to us.  Let’s hear them explain what happened to all the fountains?