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Reader: People are a part of the ecosystem

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In response to the article by Pam Zubeck, "Is the Colorado River a person? A green group is asking for that designation," perhaps environmentalists here in Colorado should look to their neighbors in my native Pennsylvania for a more mainstream approach to environmental litigation.

Last June the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held in the case Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, that Article I, Section 27 of the state's constitution should be broadly rather than narrowly interpreted as it had been previously. In short, that 1971 amendment was passed by the people via referendum; it ostensibly guarantees their rights to clean air, pure water, and environmental preservation. The recent court decision (appealed via the Commonwealth Court) infers there will be a more significant role for state government in protecting the environmental rights of its citizens

Stay tuned. Additional litigation is sure to follow. The process in PA at the state level rather than in Pittsburgh per se, or in Ecuador as mentioned in Pam Zubeck's article, seems to be more pragmatic and possibly more enduring as it affords legal rights to people rather than to rivers or to ecosystems. My Franciscan training reminds me that people are a part of the ecosystem. St. Francis of Assissi was both bold and pragmatic in protecting the environment.

— Robert John McMonagle, Professor of Political Science, Neumann University, on leave in Colorado Springs


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