Reaffirming Environmental Rights for Pennsylvania Citizens
A public forum to explore the profound ruling by the PA Supreme Court upholding the PA Constitution
Wednesday, October 11
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – East Liberty
More information and registration
John Dernbach, Director of the Environmental Law and Sustainability Center, Widener University
As reviewed by StateImpact, recently contested but upheld, the PA Supreme Court affirms broad interpretation of Environmental Rights Amendment known as *Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The decision cements in place the commonwealth’s role as trustee for public natural resources. “You have a majority of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that is now saying that the text of Article 1 Section 27, and the public trust responsibilities imposed by that text, binds the state of Pennsylvania and limits the way in which the state of Pennsylvania manages its public natural resources,” said Dernbach. “That has never been said before by a majority of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.” “John Dernbach says the decision sets aside more than 40 years of judicial practice, which employed a less robust interpretation of that amendment. But he says it’s hard to know how that will play out in each individual case brought before the courts.”
This forum will provide insights to the Court’s stand for the rights of the people of Pennsylvania to a healthy environment and the anticipated process ahead for the ruling to be applied to pressing issues. In particular, timely environmental matters in the Pittsburgh region will be identified by a panel of leaders that may put the ruling to a defining test. Panelists will represent issues such as that of RESPECTAgZone group working to stop installation of high-voltage transmission lines in Indiana Township and also the Center for Coalfield Justice working on protecting streams in Ryerson Station State Park from the impacts of longwall mining. Panelist George Jugovic, PennFuture’s Vice President of Legal Affairs, will share insights on ways in which the Environmental Rights Amendment is entering advocacy initiatives.
John Dernbach is a nationally and internationally recognized authority on sustainable development, climate change, and environmental law. He is the director of the Environmental Law and Sustainability Center, and brings his expertise into the classroom in courses on property, environmental law, international law, and sustainability.
* Article I, Section 27 provides: The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.