[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

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

Enviro-Mich message from "Anna Dorothy Graham" <grahama9@msu.edu>

There are cases, of course, in which species have been given standing in the courts -- "Northern Spotted Owl v. Hodel" (wherein the owl was backed by a number of environmental orgs) is an obvious one. It depends on the jurisdiction and the composition of the court. I think we all need to be introducing the concept of giving other living beings standing to our lawmakers in hopes of influencing future court decisions.

What really puzzles me, however, is how "corporations", mere legal fictions designed only to protect investment, have come to have legal rights that outweigh the rights of individuals or other animate beings -- why should a legal fiction have a right to sue the EPA when endangered creatures don't, as a rule? Why should corporations have constitutional rights? Why should a corporation have the ability to trash the environment without significant consequences? And so on, and so forth ...

If anyone can explain, either philosophically or historically, please do let me know!
Anna Graham

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.


When does a tree have rights?


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.





- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - To
unsubsribe from the CONS-CAFO-ACTIVIST list, send any message to:
Listserv Lists support site for more information:
http://www.sierraclub.org/lists/faq.asp To view the Sierra Club List Terms &
Conditions, see: http://www.sierraclub.org/lists/terms.asp

Anna Kirkwood Graham, J.D., Ph.D.
"There is no trifling with nature; it is always true, grave and severe; it is always in the right, and the faults and errors fall to our share."
-- Goethe

ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info enviro-mich"