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E-M:/ FW: When does a tree have rights?



Dear Michigan,

Would Superior’s southern shore Coaster Brook Trout have the right to sue the state of Michigan’s DEQ if a permit is granted to mine nickel on the Yellow Dog Plains?  Maybe, if this new idea for “Wild Law” grows as predicted.  How about if another stream is added to our state’s list of impaired waters because of CAFO manure pollution?  How about the fish in Lake Huron, polluted by Lafarge’s mercury, or Saginaw Bay and the Tittabawassee River, polluted by Dow’s dioxin? 

Click the URL for the full article.   

 

-Rita

 

When does a tree have rights?

SILVER DONALD CAMERON

The Chronicle Herald, Halifax, Nova Scotia

 

 

HARDLY ANYONE noticed it, but one of the most important events of 2006 may prove to have been the passage of the Tamaqua Borough Sewage Sludge Ordinance, a law enacted by the 7,000 brave souls who inhabit the community of Tamaqua, Penn.

Tamaqua’s revolutionary ordinance does two things. It denies the right of corporations to spread sewage sludge as fertilizer on farmland, even when the farmer is willing, and it recognizes natural communities and ecosystems as legal persons with legal rights. It is among the first "wild laws" to be passed anywhere in the world.

To understand the importance of wild law, consider this. The law recognizes as "jural persons" various bodies that are abstractions — corporations particularly, but also governments, foundations, universities, churches and other groups. These entities exist in our collective minds — you can’t touch them, smell them or see them — but they all have legal rights, particularly property rights.

Yet other entities that are absolutely real in every sense rivers and trees and animals have no legal rights at all. If Foulwater Mining Corp. dumps tailings in the river, the downstream town of Feckless Flats can sue for damage to its water supply. Both the corporation and the town are fictions, but they have standing in the courts. The river does not and neither do the plants, fish and animals in the stream.

What if they did? A decade ago, researching The Living Beach, I ran across a brilliant 1971 essay by Christopher Stone, a law professor at the University of Southern California, called Should Trees Have Standing? Towards Legal Rights for Natural Objects.

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