In 2006, a small town in Pennsylvania, Tamaqua Borough, became the first community on earth to grant legal rights to nature. Their bold action inspired folks as far away as Ecuador, and in 2008, the rights of nature were enshrined in Ecuador’s national constitution. In the years since, The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund has worked with over three dozen communities in the United States to give rights to nature, and continues its work with governments and community groups across the world as this necessary work continues to spread. Come learn how rights of nature are increasingly important as we confront climate change, and how both the legal and philosophical justifications – the recognition that humans are interdependent with nature, and not separate from it – are a necessary part of moving towards a sustainable future.
Chad Nicholson is the statewide Pennsylvania Organizer for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). He travels the state working with communities facing a range of industrial threats, e.g., defending two communities in federal court (including Grant Township) facing toxic injection wells; multiple communities pursuing Home Rule campaigns to increase community control over harmful corporate projects; and helping dozens of other communities fighting harms that range from corporate herbicide spraying to factory farms to sewage sludge spreading to fracking to massive energy corridors.