Tell the NC General Assembly: The People Want Rights of Nature!
North Carolina General Assembly
Dear Friends, Allies and Accomplices,
The Rights of the Haw River Ecosystem Act, H.B. 795, has been introduced in the NC General Assembly! If passed, it would be the first state-level Rights of Nature law in the U.S. The bill was introduced by Rep. Pricey Harrison. Sponsors include Rep. John Autry, House Democratic Whip Rep. Marcia Morey, Rep. Rosa U. Gill, Rep. Zack Hawkins, and Rep. Caleb Rudow.
The growing number of Rights of Nature supporters–from youth, to faith leaders, farmers and elected officials–are motivated by the failure of conventional conservation laws to protect the river and surrounding communities. ARTICLE XIV in the NC Constitution under MISCELLANEOUS Sec. 5 speaks to the "conservation of natural resources", however its application is limited to state and local government bodies acquiring natural spaces to preserve.
Higher standards of protection, community participation, accountability and restoration are needed, and this is exactly what The Rights of the Haw River Ecosystem Act, H.B. 795, sets forth:
H.B. 795 would recognize the rights of the Haw River to exist, flourish and regenerate, and to have abundant, pure, clean, unpolluted water.
The bill would secure the right of North Carolinians to a “healthy, flourishing Haw River ecosystem,” while protecting the “collective or individual rights of indigenous people residing in the State.”
The legislation contains implementation and enforcement provisions to guarantee and uphold the rights of the river. This includes requiring a review of all state laws and policies, as well as practices and operations, to ensure they are protective of the river and not in violation of the river’s rights.
Restoration efforts of the river ecosystem would be required under the legislation in response to violations.
We already have a number of NC General Assembly members expressing enthusiasm for our Rights of Nature initiative. The more they hear from their constituents, the stronger our chance is to advance The Rights for the Haw River Ecosystem legislation to the next stage, and to spread Rights of Nature laws and policies across the state.
Make your voice heard and sign the petition!
North Carolina General Assembly
From: [Your Name]
We, the undersigned community members, believe that nature has the right to exist, thrive, regenerate, and be restored in North Carolina. As stated in the NC constitution, we also believe our communities have the right to a healthy environment. As your constituents, we are delivering this petition to urge our elected representatives to recognize these rights by passing a Rights of Nature law for the Haw River.
Going farther than ARTICLE XIV Sec. 5 “Conservation of natural resources” in the NC Constitution, Rights of Nature laws recognize ecosystems as having legally enforceable rights. Rights of Nature laws help prevent destructive projects from moving forward, and provide communities with a broader avenue for legal action. Over three dozen cities, townships, counties and tribal nations across the U.S. have adopted Rights of Nature laws and policies to protect their local ecosystems.
The Rights for the Haw River legislation specifies permitting guidelines to prevent projects that would violate the river’s rights, such as the Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate Extension. The law would also authorize community members to file a legal action on behalf of the river to require its protection and restoration.
The health of our waterways, wildlife and communities in NC are inseparable, and deserve the highest level of legal protection. As our lawmakers, we ask that you do all that you can to support our community-led Rights for the Haw River initiative, and help pass the legislation, in any of–and not limited to–the following ways:
1. Advocating among your fellow NC GA members to advance the legislation
2. Making public statements and social media posts in support of Rights of Nature laws and Rights for the Haw River legislation
3. Spreading awareness and educating your constituents through sharing resources, connecting folks to local Rights of Nature organizers, etc.