I wanted to make sure you saw this newsletter because SEHN has some exciting new projects this summer.
SEHN began over 20 years ago (yes! It’s our 20th birthday!) as a coalition of many environmental groups to address the misuse of science and scientific uncertainty to harm public health, the environment, and future generations of all species.
But here’s the thing: even with scientific certainty, environmental agencies often look past incontrovertible facts when their legal mandate is to weigh the environment against the economy. Facts like: fossil fuel pipelines always leak, pesticides cause developmental damage, and fossil fuel fracking contributes to climate change.
SEHN believes that the legal framework – local, state or federal law – determines how facts are leveraged.
Right now communities across the country are threatened with emerging extreme energy projects—pipelines, fracking, sand mining and tar sands, which provide the feedstock for more toxic chemicals like pesticides, plasticizers, and new environmental hazards.
SEHN is working with many of these communities and organizations, including representatives from MN350.org, Sierra Club, Honor the Earth, the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition, and others to introduce legal principles based on a strong ethical foundation that will guide sound policies, protective of ecological and public health.
The principles are simple, but revolutionary: the commonwealth is the basis of the economy. Government must care for the commons. Citizens have the right to withdraw their consent from harmful actions. And more.
Our work is cracking open the spaces for raising up, listening to, and reflecting the experience of others as well as our own. Our work ahead is realigning the law with justice. Our aim is to encourage grassroots networks to adopt these legal principles, to ensure that scientific information will be used wisely, rather than to defend bad decisions that favor the economy over environmental health.
We invite you to partner with us in two ways:
First, will you sign the legal principles and begin to use them in your community?
Second, will you support this work financially so we can:
— Expand the work of Kaitlin Butler, our new Program Director specializing in climate change and future generations. She is organizing study groups emerging out of the Women’s Congress for Future Generations, so women across the country have the skill to apply the legal principles to problems in their communities.
— Fund Dr. Ted Schettler’s work as he identifies new, strategic opportunities to reconnect medicine with public environmental health, based on the ecological framework of health, in concert with a legal framework protective of future generations.
— Support Carolyn Raffensperger to lead the distribution of the new legal framework among communities resisting extreme energy, and to launch the next phase of the Women’s Congress for Future Generations.
If we have a legal framework that:
- Respects the rights of future generations and nature,
- Sees the role of government as fulfilling a public trust duty to the common wealth and health,
- Recognizes a community right to give or withhold its free, prior and informed consent to damaging technologies or activities,
- Protects the commons since it is really the backbone of community and the economy,
then we can demand that our governments respond to environmental harm and take action to protect public health, future generations and the commons.
As Donella Meadows says, “Leverage points are points of power.”
Together, we can continue to intervene at powerful leverage points, creating new rules of the game and bringing about the change so desperately needed to ensure a healthy Earth for future generations.
Thank you to those who have sent in their support. We could not take these major steps forward without your partnership.
Executive Director, SEHN