Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release

Press Release

Major Gains for Rights of Nature Movement Met With Corporate and State Backlash

Following 2020 developments in Ecuador, French Guiana, the Nez Perce Tribe, Costa Rica, Spain, the Yurok Tribe, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, the American Petroleum Institute and lawmakers in Missouri respond to repress momentum in the United States.
WASHINGTON -

So far in 2020, important developments for the global Rights of Nature movement have been made in Ecuador, French Guiana, Australia, the Nez Perce Tribe, Spain, Costa Rica, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, the Tŝilhqot’in Nation, and the Yurok Tribe, which helped win an historic agreement to remove dams on the Klamath River (whose rights the tribe formally recognized in 2019.) This week, backlash to the movement has come from the American Petroleum Institute (API) and lawmakers in Missouri.

On December 1, 2020, the API, perhaps the most influential fossil fuel lobby in the nation, filed a brief in opposition to a federal civil rights case brought by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, in defense of local communities’ right to vote on qualified local Rights of Nature laws.

The same day the API filed its legal brief, a bill (HB 54), to try to ban Rights of Nature in the courts was introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives. The language is almost identical to language passed in 2019, by the Ohio Legislature, that was drafted by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce in direct response to the passage of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights.

Weeks ago, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic decision in McGirt, which ruled that much of Eastern Oklahoma falls within Indian reservations who have sovereignty to pass environmental law (including Rights of Nature lawmaking by the Ponca Tribe), Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt and allies sought to undermine the decision by asking Congress to strip environmental authority from tribes. (Ponca Environmental Ambassador Casey Camp Horinek and the group Movement Rights have been organizing to defend tribal sovereignty and the Rights of Nature in the state.)

Additionally, in September, a corporate law firm that filed a lawsuit against the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, used civil rights law to demand attorney fees from the City of Toledo, for its fleeting defense of the people’s law. This amounts to financial reprisal against residents of Toledo, Ohio for their enactment of the historic law.

For supporting documentation contact simon@celdf.org.

###

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) is helping build a decolonial movement for Community Rights and the Rights of Nature to advance democratic, economic, social, and environmental rights–building upward from the grassroots to the state, federal, and international levels.

'Incredible': Omar and Khanna Staffers Join Levin's Office in Unionizing

"It is long past time the United States Congress became a unionized workplace, and that includes my own staff," said Rep. Ilhan Omar. "I am proud of all the people on my team who have played a leading role in the staff unionization effort. Solidarity forever."

Jessica Corbett ·


Destructive Hurricanes Fuel Calls for Biden to Declare Climate Emergency

"Mother Nature is not waiting for the president or Congress to declare a climate emergency. She's showing us in real-time here in the United States—with wildfires, floods, heatwaves, hurricanes, and drought."

Jessica Corbett ·


Spain Approves 'Solidarity' Tax to Make Nation's Top 0.1% Pay a Fairer Share

The country's finance minister said that looming changes are bound to make the tax code "more progressive, efficient, fair, and also enough to guarantee social justice and economic efficiency."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Time to Take to the Streets': Working Class Hold 'Enough Is Enough' Rallies Across UK

"Does a CEO need an extra zero at the end of their salary—or should nurses, posties, and teachers be able to heat their homes?" said one supporter ahead of the #EnoughIsEnough National Day of Action.

Julia Conley ·


Ukraine Responds to Putin Annexations With Fast-Track NATO Application

Lamenting the lack of any progress toward a diplomatic settlement, one anti-war campaigner asked: "Will the world stand idly by as we careen towards nuclear apocalypse?"

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo