What is The Maine Pine Tree Amendment?
The Pine Tree Amendment is Maine’s Version of a Green Amendment. Green Amendments are self-executing provisions added to the Bill of Rights section of a constitution that recognize and protect the rights of all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or income, including future generations, to a clean and healthy environment including pure water, clean air, a stable climate, and healthy environments.
What's Happening in Maine?
Green Amendments For The Generations is working with our lead partner Down To Earth Storytelling, as well as individual community activists and leaders, to build a growing coalition of grassroots organizations, indigenous leaders, youth leaders, civic leaders, legislators, and dedicated residents.
The Pine Tree Amendment was re-proposed for the 2022 legislative session. Over the course of the session, grassroots organizing, educational programming, meetings with government leaders in both elected and appointed offices resulted in growing awareness and support.
On March 24th, the Pine Tree Amendment secured support from a majority of the Maine House of Representatives in a vote of 77 to 59. This vote of confidence demonstrated the tremendous progress of our Pine Tree Amendment Steering Committee's grassroots education and engagement efforts. Unfortunately, in Maine, a 2/3 majority was needed for the bill to advance -- while the Pine Tree Amendment came close to the mark, it didn't quite get there and so the bill stalled for this year.
In the meantime, the work never stops! Grassroots activist are already regrouping for 2023, with new education, outreach, art builds and other exciting awareness and engagement opportunities in the works.
Learn more about how the Maine Constitution is amended here. See our Pine Tree Amendment FAQ here and Highlights here, or check out our Resources page to explore more. And also take a look at the website of our grassroots coalition where you can find all sorts of ways to get engaged and involved: https://www.pinetreeamendment.org .
The proposed bill reads as follows in Art. I of the Maine Constitution:
Section 25. Environmental rights. The people of the State have the right to a clean and healthy environment and to the preservation of the natural, cultural and healthful qualities of the environment. The State may not infringe upon these rights. The State shall conserve, protect and maintain the State’s natural resources, including, but not limited to, its air, water, land and ecosystems for the benefit of all the people, including generations yet to come.
Organizations Signed in Support of the Maine Pine Tree Amendment
- Down to Earth Storytelling
- Alliance for Economic Democracy
- Midcoast Conservancy
- Green Sanctuary Committee Universalist Unitarian Church of Waterville
- 350 Central Maine
- Creation Care Team, 1st Congregational Church, UCC
- Waterville Senior High School’s Green Team
- Wild Seed Project
- Center for an Ecology Based Economy
- Sierra Club Maine
Senators & Representatives Sponsoring the Pine Tree Amendment
Champion Spotlight with ME’s Senator Maxmin & Senator Bennett
On National Green Amendment Day (7/13/21), GAFTG Founder Maya van Rossum sat down with Senator Maxmin & Senator Bennett to discuss their leadership in advancing a Pine Tree Amendment for the state of Maine and why environmental rights should be constitutionally protected.
Check Out Senator Bennett’s Testimony (R-19)
Senator Brenner, Representative Tucker and esteemed colleagues of the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources: My name is Rick Bennett, I live in Oxford, and I have the honor of representing the beautiful foothills and lakes region of western Maine in the Maine Senate. I am pleased to cosponsor LD 489, “RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Establish a Right to a Healthy Environment”—also known as the Pine Tree Amendment. The proposed Amendment is predicated on the fact that a core condition of human life and core to our state’s identity is a healthy environment and a clean outdoors. This Amendment will hold our government accountable to protect these as basic rights.
The Pine Tree Amendment would be added to Article I., the Declaration of Rights in the Maine Constitution. This enumeration of rights therefore precedes the mechanisms and applications of governmental powers, the checks and balances, the legal definitions which follow. Indeed, the expression of these rights foremost in our founding document is designed as a limitation on the governmental power that is thereafter constructed. The Declaration of Rights are the bedrock principles and legal protections that you can expect if you live in Maine. The Pine Tree Amendment fits comfortably and contentedly in this context. What commonality is more important for Mainers than our bountiful, beautiful outdoors – the clean winds of Katahdin, the lapping waves of Sebago, the bends of coastal shoreline? What says Maine more than cross-country skiing on a crisp March morning, dipping your paddle in Chesuncook Lake, feeling the earth awaken around your tree stand in November, traversing the boulders of Mahoosuc Notch, or hearing the buoy bell at eventide? Our way of life in Maine demands recognition and protection as a right of the people. Sadly, our government has shown that it cannot always be trusted. Sometimes its policies are swayed unduly by centers of influence, such as globe-straddling corporations that may think of Maine as a market, as a means to an end, rather than as the unique place it is, where there is a special interconnectedness between the people and the lands and waters on which we live, play, work, and find sustenance. Thus, the Pine Tree Amendment will help safeguard the harmonizing elements of our way of life, our shared values and our common culture. I ask for your favorable consideration and thank you for your attention