Agricultural industry tries to quash democratic law recognizing rights of Lake Erie



Tish O’Dell, Ohio Community Organizer

TOLEDO, OH: Community members in Toledo, Ohio, do not want to live without access to clean water ever again. In 2014, their water was so polluted with algae caused by phosphorus runoff, it was not safe to even touch for three days.

And so, Toledo residents did what their local and state representatives would not: They determined to protect the Great Lake Erie by recognizing in law the Lake’s rights to exist, flourish, and evolve. They prohibited any activity by a corporation or government that would violate those rights. How? By adopting the Lake Erie Bill of Rights with 61% of the vote. And they did it despite being outspent by BP Corporation based in Houston, Texas, by 50:1.

The Ohio Farm Bureau – long known to be comprised of corporate agriculture representatives – wasted no time in backing a lawsuit to quash the will of the people and rights of Lake Erie. Twelve hours after Toledo citizens adopted the measure, they filed to overturn it.

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund  (CELDF) is representing Lake Erie and Toledo residents in their joint request to participate as full parties in the lawsuit. While City representatives refuse to stand up to big business, the people of Toledo and Lake Erie are doing just that – asserting their rights and fighting for what’s right.

Toledo resident Crystal Jankowski stated, “Lake Erie is an ecosystem upon which we are inextricably connected. The Lake has the right to exist, flourish, and evolve. While our laws, until now, have treated Lake Erie as an object to be exploited, we recognize that the Lake is a living entity, and we will defend the Lake’s rights. Our lives depend upon it.”

Help us defend the Lake Erie Bill of Rights on behalf of Lake Erie and Toledo community members. Help us advance Rights of Nature across the U.S. Join us and our partners at CrowdJustice as we raise the funds necessary to protect Lake Erie and grow the Rights of Nature movement!

Donate here: Thank you!

About The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

CELDF is a nonprofit, public advocacy law firm that provides free and low-cost legal services to local governments and nonprofit organizations fighting to defend communities from environmental degradation. CELDF assists communities in legislative and policy drafting, legal research, and legal defense, as well as education and training. CELDF has assisted over 200 communities across the U.S. to enact Community Bills of Rights laws that ban dangerous corporate activities, such as fracking and factory hog farms, within their localities. Since the early 2000s, CELDF has also worked with communities across the U.S. and the world to adopt laws recognizing legally enforceable rights for ecosystems and nature.



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