The Constitutional Change We Need to Protect Our Priceless Natural Resources
For decades, activists have relied on federal and state legislation to fight for a cleaner environment. And for decades, they’ve been fighting a losing battle. The sad truth is, our laws are designed to accommodate pollution rather than prevent it. It’s no wonder people feel powerless when it comes to preserving the quality of their water, air, public parks, and special natural spaces.
But there is a solution, argues veteran environmentalist Maya K. van Rossum: bypass the laws and turn to the ultimate authority — our state and federal constitutions.
In 2013, van Rossum and her team won a watershed legal victory that not only protected Pennsylvania communities from ruthless frackers but affirmed the constitutional right of people in the state to a clean and healthy environment. Following this victory, van Rossum inaugurated the Green Amendment movement, dedicated to empowering every American community to mobilize for constitutional change.
Now, with The Green Amendment, van Rossum lays out an inspiring new agenda for environmental advocacy, one that will finally empower people, level the playing field, and provide real hope for communities everywhere. Readers will discover:
- how legislative environmentalism has failed communities across America,
- the transformational difference environmental constitutionalism can make,
- the power of environmental constitutionalism for environmental justice,
- the economic imperative of environmental constitutionalism, and
- how to take action in their communities.
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100% of the proceeds from the sale of The Green Amendment go to the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
Maya K. van Rossum
Maya K. van Rossum has served as the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network since 1994. Maya is the founder of the national Green Amendment Movement.
In her role as the Delaware Riverkeeper, Maya has dedicated her life to being the “voice of the Delaware River.” She has taken on industry, government, and even the U.S. Army; preventing harm to the River, communities, and environments she bravely champions. Now, Maya is working to empower individuals across the nation to stand up for their environmental rights by pioneering the Green Amendment Movement.
In 2013, Maya and her organization achieved a major victory in the landmark case, Robinson Township, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, et. al. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The case, decided by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, revived the state’s long-ignored Constitutional Environmental Rights Amendment, empowering it to protect the people’s right to pure water, clean air, and a healthy environment. The Green Amendment movement is inspiring communities across the nation to secure their own constitutional right to a healthy environment by pursuing Green Amendments in every state constitution and ultimately at the federal level.
She is a licensed attorney in three states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia. Since 2002, Maya has served as an adjunct professor and director of the Environmental Law Clinic, which she founded, at Temple’s Beasley School of Law.
In 2013, Maya testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee opposing a bill that would make it easier to approve fracked gas pipeline projects cutting through creeks, rivers, communities, wetlands, forests, and farmlands. In 2000, she testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Resources regarding wild and scenic designation for the lower Delaware River.
In addition to her own book, The Green Amendment, Maya has authored forewords for Damming the Delaware: The Rise and Fall of Tocks Island Dam by Richard Albert, and A Paddler’s Guide to the Delaware River by Gary Letcher.
Maya grew up in the Delaware River watershed, playing in Ithan Creek, a tributary to the Darby, which is a tributary to the Delaware. After law school she returned to the Delaware River watershed to take on the role of fighting to protect it, along with each and every tributary stream including her beloved Ithan Creek.
To her own surprise, Maya has inspired environmental advocates and musicians alike. In 2005, The Donuts wrote a song in her name, titled, “Maya van Rossum’s Blues,” about an oil spill that spewed 165,000 gallons of heavy crude into the Delaware.
"She writes persuasively and makes a convincing case. It was inspiring to see that grassroots activity combined with good lawyering can still create change."
Professor at Vermont Law School
“From her tireless advocacy for the Delaware River watershed and those who love it, Maya van Rossum offers a sobering message: In an era when legislatures and regulatory agencies are hobbled by divisive politics and unable to keep pace with our scientific understanding of threats to public health and the environment, constitutional protection of natural and human communities may be our best hope for survival.”
—Bradley M. Campbell
President of the Conservation Law Foundation, former Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and former Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
“Read this book and you will be infuriated and inspired. Infuriated because the book drags you through the environmental muck of fracking, pipelines, PFOA .... But you will be inspired by the notion, transformed into a call for a constitutional amendment, that we, the people, have always had more power than we thought.”
—A. R. Ingraffea, PhD, PE
Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering Emeritus and Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow at Cornell University
"This is activism 2.0. Important, timely, and passionate, The Green Amendment will revolutionize the way we approach our work to protect the environment."
Pennsylvania State Representative, 166th Legislative District
"The Green Amendment asks us to imagine a world in which the right to pure water and healthy air exist on par with due process and free speech—and then shows us how to make it so."
—Sandra Steingraber, PhD
Author of Living Downstream and Raising Elijah, recipient of the Rachel Carson Leadership Award, and co-founder of New Yorkers Against Fracking
"If we were writing our Constitution for the first time today, wise leaders would surely insert protections for our environment. Amendments are hard, of course — there’s a lot of corporate power to overcome — but given the stakes, this is surely an idea worth everyone taking very seriously!"
Author of Radio Free Vermont