Counties Raise Concerns About Impacts of Vague Environmental Right Amendment

On 20, January 2021 MACo Policy Associate Alex Butler testified virtually before the House Environment and Transportation Committee to oppose HB 82 Constitutional Amendment – Environmental Rights. This bill would add an amendment to the Maryland Constitution for every resident to have a right to a healthy environment, stating that Maryland’s natural resources are a common good for every individual. The bill creates a new and vaguely defined constitutional right and an expansive new class of litigants with broad standing rights to litigate or intervene. HB 82 would amend the Maryland Constitution to create a new environmental right under the Declaration of Rights for any “person.”

From the MACo Testimony: 

Longstanding and well-established environmental standards could by upended by an aberrant court
decision, causing major policy changes and costs for local governments. Furthermore, the bill would
empower any person to enforce or intervene in any case involving a right created by the bill, against
any public party. This upsets Maryland’s own well considered standing requirements that have been
developed over decades by the Maryland General Assembly and the Judiciary.

HB 82 would create a new vaguely defined constitutional right that grants broad standing to bring
litigation against both the State and local governments, resulting in a potentially significant increase in
costs due to additional litigation over virtually any project or action. Accordingly, MACo requests the
Committee give HB 82 an UNFAVORABLE report.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2021 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.

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