Rights of Nature Ordinance
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Rights of Nature

An Ordinance by the Second Class Township of , County, Pennsylvania, Acknowledging the Rights of Natural Communities and Ecosystems and Establishing a System of Enforcing and Protecting Those Rights

Against Corporations and Other Business Entities

Section 1. Name. The name of this Ordinance shall be “The Rights of Nature Ordinance.”

Section 2. Authority. This Ordinance is adopted and enacted pursuant to the authority granted to Township by all relevant state and federal Constitutions and laws, including, but not limited to, the following:

The founding documents of the United States, which recognize that governments are created to secure and protect inalienable and fundamental rights;

The Constitution of the United States, Article IV, §4, which requires the United States to guarantee a Republican Form of Government;

The Constitution of Pennsylvania, Art. 1, § 2, which provides that all power is inherent in the people, and that all free governments are founded on the peoples’ authority and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness;

The Constitution of Pennsylvania, Art. 1, §27, which recognizes that Pennsylvanians are trustees of the natural world;

The general authority granted by the Constitution of Pennsylvania and the Second Class Township Code to make and adopt all such ordinances, bylaws, rules, and regulations as may be deemed expedient or necessary for the proper management, care, and control of Township and its finances and the maintenance of the health, safety, peace, good government, and welfare of ________Township;

Pennsylvania Statutes, Tit. 53, Municipal and Quasi-Municipal Corporations, §66506, which authorizes Township to enact ordinances necessary for the proper management, care, and control of the Township and its finances and the maintenance of peace, good government, health, and welfare of the Township.

Section 3. Findings and General Purpose. The Township Board of Supervisors recognizes that:

(1) Governments are created to secure and protect inalienable and fundamental rights;

(2) People and their communities are trustees of nature, and communities of nature and ecosystems form part of the natural trust;

(3) It is well-settled law that trustees are required to protect and preserve the trust,

(4) As trustees, people and communities are obligated to protect and preserve natural communities and ecosystems;

(5) Natural communities and ecosystems are currently being destroyed, degraded, and weakened by corporations and other business entities;

(6) Governments empower those corporations and other business entities through the bestowal of constitutional “rights” and powers upon them;

(7) The environmental regulatory system merely regulates how quickly natural communities and ecosystems will be destroyed and degraded;

(8) The environmental regulatory system has failed to protect and preserve natural communities and ecosystems because regulations focus solely on minimizing the adverse environmental impacts resulting from certain activities,

(9) The environmental regulatory system fails to protect and preserve natural communities and ecosystems because it treats those communities and systems as property;

(10) Creation and validation of the environmental regulatory system thus fails to satisfy the duties of humans and communities to be trustees of natural communities and ecosystems;

(11) Recognition by humans and communities that natural communities and ecosystems have fundamental and inalienable rights is necessary to satisfy the obligation and duty of people and communities as trustees;

(12) Creating a process for the legal enforcement of those fundamental and inalienable rights by people and communities is necessary to fulfill peoples’ role as trustees for natural communities and ecosystems.

Section 4. Specific Purpose. The specific purpose of this Ordinance is to acknowledge the inalienable, fundamental rights of nature, and establish an enforcement system whereby people and communities can protect and vindicate the rights of nature against actions taken by corporations and other business entities.

Section 5. Statement of Law. Natural communities and ecosystems possess inalienable and fundamental rights to exist and prosper, and no corporation or business entity – or persons acting in corporate or business capacities – shall deny those rights, or interfere with the vitality or functioning of those communities or ecosystems.

Section 6. Statement of Law. Every living creature within the Township of ____________possesses an inalienable and fundamental right to be an integral part of a community of nature and ecosystem, and no corporation or business entity shall deprive or deny living creatures that right.

Section 7. Statement of Law. The Township Board of Supervisors shall not make or enforce any law which shall abridge the rights of natural communities and ecosystems.

Section 8. Statement of Law. The enumeration in this Ordinance, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by natural communities, living creatures, and ecosystems within the Township of .

Section 9. Enforcement. When this Ordinance or the underlying rights recognized by this Ordinance are violated, it shall be the duty of the Board of Supervisors of the Township of _____________to file an enforcement action against any corporation, business entity, or persons acting in corporate or business capacities. Such action shall seek to protect, preserve, and vindicate the rights of nature as recognized by this Ordinance. Any natural person shall also have the authority to file an action in the appropriate judicial forum against any corporation, business entity, or persons acting in corporate or business capacities, which has violated, is violating, or threatens to violate, the rights of animals or ecosystems within Township as outlined by this Ordinance. Protecting, preserving, and vindicating the rights acknowledged in this Ordinance shall include seeking both punitive and compensatory damages against a corporation, business entity, and/or managers of those entities, under the authority of state and federal civil rights statutes.

Section 10. Enforcement. For purposes of the enforcement of the rights acknowledged in this Ordinance, natural communities and ecosystems shall be considered “persons” within 42 U.S.C. §1983 and other federal and state laws adopted to vindicate and enforce rights.

Section 11. Severability. The provisions of this Ordinance are severable. If any section, clause, sentence, part, or provision of the Ordinance shall be held illegal, invalid, or unconstitutional by any court of competent jurisdiction, such decision of the court shall not affect, impair, or invalidate any of the remaining sections, clauses, sentences, parts, or provisions of this Ordinance. It is hereby declared to be the intent of the Board of Supervisors of Township that this Ordinance would have been adopted if such illegal, invalid, or unconstitutional section, clause, sentence, part, or provision had not been included herein.

Section 12. Effective Date. This Ordinance shall take effect five days after enactment by the Board of Supervisors of Township.


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