Our state constitution gives us the right to free speech, the right to own a gun, the right to assemble. But we don’t have the right to clean air, clean water or a healthy environment. Maybe it’s time we did.

The Pine Tree Amendment (L.D. 928) would add these environmental rights to Maine’s constitution. It would assure that our clean environment is protected, for current and future generations.


Environmental rights have a 30-year track record in two other states, Montana and Pennsylvania. These rights have protected communities there from serious environmental harm. There have been no surprises, and no unintended consequences. There’s a lot we can learn from them.

The Pennsylvania legislature passed a law that allowed fracking for gas in any location, including schoolyards, town parks and neighborhoods. The law superseded local control over fracking. A citizens group and seven towns sued the state, citing their constitutional environmental rights. They won. The state law was overturned, and local zoning was reinstated.

In Montana, a company received a permit for a gold mine. The mine would have dumped millions of gallons of toxic effluent into the Blackfoot River, a pristine trout habitat. Citizens groups there challenged the permit, and it was overturned. The site was never mined.


One of the most frequently asked questions is whether the Pine Tree Amendment would lead to a lot of litigation. Based on the experience in other states, the answer is no.

Five to seven cases each year in Montana and Pennsylvania mention environmental rights. And most of these are citations, adding strength to existing cases. Rarely are environmental rights used to initiate a case.

The reason for so few cases is simple: Lawyers are penalized for bringing cases that are frivolous. They will not risk their reputation or license on a case without merit. For a case to rise to the level of violating constitutional rights, serious environmental harm has to be proven.


Maine has a significant lithium deposit, estimated to be worth over $1 billion. Rare earth minerals important to manufacturing electronics have been found in Aroostook County. Four commercial-scale aquaculture projects have been proposed, and a new large-scale wind facility and transmission line in Aroostook County is under consideration.

Large and important developments are here, and more are on the way. The Pine Tree Amendment would assure that the people’s right to clean air, clean water and a healthy environment are considered as these and other proposals come forward.


Some argue that Maine’s environmental laws and rules are good enough and we don’t need constitutional rights. But we have seen environmental laws and rules come and go, as the Blaine House and Legislature change hands. Some years, environmental laws are enforced vigorously. Other years, not so much.

The Pine Tree Amendment would ensure that the health of Maine people and communities is always part of the policymaking progress.


The Pine Tree Amendment would provide environmental protection for all Maine citizens, without exception. Typically in the U.S., toxic facilities are located in places where residents have the least ability to fight back. Fortunately, this has not happened too many times in Maine.

But the pressure is growing. How are we going to handle the growing stream of solid waste? What are we going to do with PFAS-contaminated sludge? What about plastics?

The Pine Tree Amendment would ensure that public health is considered as these issues are addressed. No group of Mainers would be unfairly exposed. The Pine Tree Amendment can prevent environmental injustice before it starts.

We urge all Maine legislators to support L.D. 928 to ensure a clean and healthy Maine for now and for future generations. Visit www.pinetreeamendment.org for more information.

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