CRC Proposal #23, A Right to A Clean and Healthful Environment; “Any Citizen… but not a Corporation”

A mullet jumps at sunset, St Lucie River, photo taken by my brother Todd Thurlow

CRC Proposal #23, A Right to A Clean and Healthful Environment; “Any Citizen of the State of Florida, but not a Corporation”

Next week,  the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) will once again be in committee. Today, I will provide an update of proposal #23, “A Right to a Clean and Healthful Environment” and new thoughts:

#23 will be heard, December 12, 2017, between 1-5pm in the Judicial Committee. You can write committee members to support this proposal here or speak during public comment: (http://flcrc.gov/Committees/JU/)

This proposal was already “presented” to the Judicial Committee on November 28th, 2017, just over a week ago. As mentioned, on December 12, it will go before the committee once again, but this time is will be voted upon.

If the proposal passes through the Judicial Committee, the next stop will be the General Provisions committee. If it passes the General Provisions Committee, the proposal will go before the entire CRC for a vote to determine if it will go on the 2018 ballot.

In spite of tremendous opposition from Affiliated Industries of Florida who hired four, high-powered, Gunster attorneys to speak in opposition to the proposal, along with the Florida Chamber and others, I thought the November 28th presentation went great. As I had hoped, students were a part of the presentation for the proposal with Kai Su, a law student from Stetson University, who helped research the proposal, and the founders of the River Kidz sharing their public policy paper written on the subject for a duel enrollment class at Indian River State College.

I presented briefly myself, but had to leave the meeting early to run my own. Later, when I watched the Florida Channel’s video and saw the idealistic young people juxtaposed to the hard-edged lawyers, and self-focused business interests, I knew the proposal had been successful in spite of whatever its final outcome…

—#23, a proposal that would give more standing in a court of law to citizens of Florida over the all-powerful state agencies and those hand-picked by them to benefit from holding and executing “environmental” permits. Many members of the Judicial Committee asked hard and insightful questions to the attorneys, and I am deeply appreciative of their serious involvement and interest in the subject.

*You can read about the original submission of  #23 here: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/adequate-provision-is-not-enough/)

*You can see the Judicial Committee meeting at the Florida Channel here:
https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/112817-constitution-revision-commission-judicial-committee/

*Stetson newsletter: http://www.stetson.edu/law/news/index.php/2017/11/29/student-presents-environmental-rights-supporting-clean-healthy-environment-amendment-florida-constitution-tallahassee/So…this coming Tuesday, I will again go before the Judicial Committee, but this time for a vote. From the beginning of sponsoring this proposal, I knew that the language and the idea would be controversial; but I had no idea to the degree. What was most important me was to find a proposal I supported from the public (#700450) and to sponsor it.

I was taken with this particular proposal because it was a collaboration of students and their professors from Barry and Stetson University. As a former eighth and ninth grade teacher, I liked the idea of youth being involved. The decisions made through the CRC process are indeed meant to be forward thinking for the next twenty years. Youth should be part of this conversation.

One thing is certain, this proposal has struck a chord. I am proud of that. I am proud for the young people for the conversation this proposal is inspiring. I also believe we must ask ourselves why were four Gunster attorneys hired, costing hundreds of dollars per hour, to speak against this CRC proposal? Is it because it would shift power from the legislative and executive branches of government to the judicial branch ~causing a more balanced “scale of justice?” It is because if #23 “A Right to a Clean and Healthful Environment” were to go on the ballot, it would likely pass?

Of course if would. The people of Florida do want a right to a clean and healthful environment; feel like environmental interests have been kicked to the curb; and should as taxpaying citizens of the state of Florida have fair standing in a court of law. Is this really asking too much?

Student Kai Su pointed out that the language is “subject to the reasonable limitations as provided by law.” This would not be a litigation free for all, but rather the judicial branch would decide certain issues considering the present laws on the books. Right now this is not really a possibility. People have to sue together under groups like the Sierra Club. Use the Federal Clean Water Act. It’s so hard, individually, people don’t even try.

Why shouldn’t citizens have standing on their own? As mentioned, the present scale is tipped so that state agencies, talking direction from the executive and  legislative branches, have full authority to give protection to polluters under Florida Statues 403.412 (e), and the Florida Constitutions is so vague –offering only “adequate provision” it is really useless. Today, the Department of Environmental Protection joyfully gives out permits to corporations and business entities while the concerns of the people of Florida’s are mostly ignored.

*(Florida Statutes 403.401 https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2013/403.412 provides  citizens rights  and then nullifies all in section e. )

I recognize that Great Dragon and its armies are against this proposal, but I see the light.  I see the faces of the young people and their desire for the their children and grandchildren  to be able to jump into a clean river or spring; catch a fish they can eat; hold the miracle of a seahorse in the palm of their hand; to feel the speed of boating without contaminated toxic algae spray against their face.

Kids in Florida springs, photo courtesy of John Moran.

Before Tuesday’s meeting I felt it was important to try to compromise, so I did reach out.  I asked a representative from the opposition if there was any common ground we could work on together for future generations. I waited a few days for an answer. The answer was there was no interest in any part of this proposal going into the Florida constitution…

Hmmm…

I think will go forward the best I can with proposal #23 . Head up…My job is to herald this through for future for future generations. And although rejected in compromise, we will ameliorate the language to strike the words: scenic, historic, and aesthetic values of the that most concerned the opposition and rewrite “any person” to read:

“Any citizen of the state of Florida, but not a corporation, may enforce this right against any party, public or private, subject to reasonable limitations as provided by law.”

Because every citizen does have the right to a clean and healthful environment.

Kids jumping near Sandbar, Martin County, Fl. photo shared Barbara Osbourne
____________________________________

Original proposal:

  CRC - 2017                                                  P 23



       By Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch

       thurlowlj-00038-17                                      201723__
    1                         A proposal to amend
    2         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution to
    3         establish that every person has a right to a clean and
    4         healthful environment.
    5
    6  Be It Proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission of
    7  Florida:
    8
    9         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution is
   10  amended to read:
   11                             ARTICLE II
   12                         GENERAL PROVISIONS
   13         SECTION 7. Natural resources and scenic beauty.—
   14         (a) It shall be the policy of the state to conserve and
   15  protect its natural resources and scenic beauty. Adequate
   16  provision shall be made by law for the abatement of air and
   17  water pollution and of excessive and unnecessary noise and for
   18  the conservation and protection of natural resources.
   19         (b) Those in the Everglades Agricultural Area who cause
   20  water pollution within the Everglades Protection Area or the
   21  Everglades Agricultural Area shall be primarily responsible for
   22  paying the costs of the abatement of that pollution. For the
   23  purposes of this subsection, the terms “Everglades Protection
   24  Area” and “Everglades Agricultural Area” shall have the meanings
   25  as defined in statutes in effect on January 1, 1996.
   26         (c) The natural resources of the state are the legacy of
   27  present and future generations. Every person has a right to a
   28  clean and healthful environment, including clean air and water;
   29  control of pollution; and the conservation and restoration of
   30  the natural, scenic, historic, and aesthetic values of the
   31  environment as provided by law. Any person may enforce this
   32  right against any party, public or private, subject to
   33  reasonable limitations, as provided by law.

CRC original proposal #23: https://www.flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0023/ProposalText/Filed/HTML

AIF Press Release regarding CRC proposal #23, expression concerns: http://www.aif.com/information/2017/pr171127.html

*Thank you for the many emails I have received from every-day people in  support on Proposal #23! Here are a couple:

St  Lucie River at sunset, photo by Todd Thurlow.

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a commissioner on the 2017/18 Constitution Revision Commissioner; *this proposal will go before the Judicial Committee 12-12-17. You can support or voice concerns about this proposal by writing the Judicial Committee here: http://flcrc.gov/Committees/JU/

Follow #23 here: http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0023

Find all committees go here:http://flcrc.gov/Committees

Jacqui can be reached here: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Learn about the CRC here: http://www.flcrc.gov

3 thoughts on “CRC Proposal #23, A Right to A Clean and Healthful Environment; “Any Citizen… but not a Corporation”

  1. Thank you for your work, but, it is a shame that all this has to be done when clean water should be a first requirement for neighborhood, city, state ELECTED officials to enact. Bless you and keep on , keepin on. Bless you , with you and sharing all this everyday.
    Ed Jeffrey

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been putting fine calcium sand and trying to bring back sea grass in an area that old maps showed once had lush grass flats. Green sea turtles have taken great interest in what I am doing. If you sit and watch over about a thousand yard aere you will see a dark green head come up —about the size of 2 fist put togather. after watching for a minute or 2 it is obvious there is a army of green sea turtles right where I have been putting my sand. If they could only vote too.

    Liked by 1 person

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