Little Mahoning Watershed in Indiana County, Pennsylvania recently filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit to defend its own rights to exist and flourish. But watersheds can’t hire lawyers or speak, so how can one defend its rights, and do watersheds even have rights?
The Little Mahoning Creek waterway flows through Grant Township, where elected officials unanimously passed a “Community Bill of Rights Ordinance” in June 2014 which declared “the rights of human and natural communities to water and a healthy environment,” including what’s commonly called the “Rights of Nature.”
These issues concern life and death — not only through the threat corporations pose to the earth’s life support systems, but also the threat they pose to individuals:
Still, implementation of nature’s rights is slow and difficult, even deadly.
Just last week, the body of missing indigenous leader José Isidro Tendetza Antún was found buried in a mock grave marked “no name,” the latest in a series of murders of environmental activists in Ecuador in recent years. Antún planned to denounce a mining project at a Rights of Nature Tribunal during climate talks taking place in Lima, Peru the week following his death.
Antún in a speech featured to YouTube: “It is time to say enough to the corruption that threatens our territory of the Ecuadorian Amazon.”
RIP José Isidro Tendetza Antún. The spirit of your struggle lives on and grows in strength.