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 to build a growing coalition of grassroots organizations, indigenous leaders, youth leaders, civic leaders, legislators, and dedicated residents.
On February 17, the Pine Tree Amendment (LD 489), Maine's version of a Green Amendment, was introduced by Senator Chloe Maxmin and referred to the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. On March 8, 2021, Founder Maya van Rossum joined Maine legislators, partners, and community members in testifying in support of the Pine Tree Amendment during the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources hearing. Watch the hearing here.
On April 28, 2021, the Maine State Legislature voted procedurally to advance the Maine Pine Tree Amendment so it can now go before each of the legislative houses for a full vote. The amendment is securing strong bi-partisan support. The amendment’s primary sponsors are Democratic Senator Chloe Maxmin and Republican Senator Richard Bennett. The procedural vote further demonstrated growing support from elected officials on both sides of the political spectrum. Having secured majority support in both the Senate and the House, the amendment will now need to secure support by a two thirds majority in each of the legislative houses, after which it will be placed on the ballot in November for Maine voters.
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