In 2019, after a decade-long campaign, voters in Toledo Ohio voted to approve the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, effectively giving the lake personhood. It drew an incredible amount of attention. This wasn’t San Francisco hippies or Brooklyn hipsters talking about rights of nature, this was middle-aged moms in the Rust Belt, and that absolutely terrified any extractive industry. Agrichemical companies turned out in force against the bill, BP spent a fortune to try to stop it, and almost as soon as it passed it was being questioned in court. Then in 2020 the state smuggled a ban against rights-of-nature legislation into its annual budget bill. Similar preemptive bans on rights of nature have since been passed in Florida and Missouri. As one Ohio campaigner put it, “You know what you’re doing is working if they’re going around the country trying to preempt it.” In this episode, we look at where the rights of nature movement is today, how the fossil fuel industry has responded, and what’s next.
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