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Walk the Walk. Talk the Talk.

West Nottingham Academy’s Student Environmental Council is working with our local and state conservation partners to support Maryland’s Amendment on Environmental Health and Justice.

The purpose of the Amendment is “to enshrine in Maryland’s constitution all citizens’ right to live in a healthy, healthful environment regardless of community location or economic status.” WNA’s Student Environmental Council (SEC) along with the whole WNA community embrace environmental ethics as ethics of everyday living, and as our SEC motto states, we understand that as humans dependent on a clean environment, we have “’nothing without Earth.” We support this amendment because we understand we need to sustain the earth that sustains all of our lives and because we know that all people in all communities, regardless ethnicity, race, or income level, deserve a healthy and livable environment.

To effectively fight environmental injustices and the existential threat of climate change, to assure the rights of every individual to a healthy and healthful environment, we need more than individual laws. We need a constitutional amendment underpinning them, promoting them, securing them, and allowing vigorous enforcement of them.

Essential Elements of the 2021 Maryland Environmental Human Rights Amendment


  • “Each person has a fundamental and inalienable right to a healthful environment”
  • “The natural resources of the state, including climate, are the common property of every person.”
  • “The State and each political subdivision shall serve as trustees of the state’s natural resources-protecting against ‘unreasonable diminution and degradation’ by ‘action or inaction.’

Healthy Green Amendment Background

  • In the early 1970s, governments on both the federal and state levels were rushing to respond to the populist push to create laws that would protect and heal an increasingly degraded environment. In that single decade, sweeping federal policies, structures and authorities were established including the Environmental Protection Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Air Act, a reinvigorated Clean Water Act, and more.
  • At the same time, many states began to assess the legal and regulatory structures within their own jurisdictions that would enable them to protect the environment within their borders. Finding those wanting, several states created environmental provisions in their constitutions, among them, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Montana, Massachusetts, and Hawaii, which asserted that residents of their states had certain rights to a healthy or healthful environment.
  • Maryland is one of several states currently working toward the creation of a state constitutional amendment, placed in the Declaration of Rights, that asserts that every Marylander has a right to a healthful environment.
  • In 1973, the Maryland General Assembly passed the Maryland Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) which states “…each person has a fundamental and inalienable right to a healthful environment.” The implementation of MEPA relied on agencies creating their own methods and procedures to define and guide this policy, assuring that proposed activities involving the state that threatened the integrity of the environment be fully and appropriately reviewed before being permitted to move forward. To date, only three agencies have created such procedures, and even these require updating.
  • To effectively fight environmental injustices and the existential threat of climate change, to assure the rights of every individual to a healthy and healthful environment, we need more than individual laws. We need a constitutional amendment underpinning them, promoting them, securing them, and allowing vigorous enforcement of them.
  • Environmental human rights focuses on three interrelated goals: environmental health, public health, and environmental justice. We are pursuing these goals via a constitutional amendment, legislation, and regulations.

What the Amendment Needs to Pass

  • 3/5 majority vote in both houses of Maryland’s Congress
  • Majority vote at next general election following passage in the Senate and House of Delegates
  • Public support that will help to achieve both these milestones

Potential Impact

  • Requires all laws and regulations be compliant with amendment​
  • Promotes environmental justice and public health​
  • Prevents future weakening of environmental laws and standards​
  • Increases enforcement and accountability​
Group of People

WNA’s Advocacy

On Feb. 23, 2020, students from West Nottingham Academy’s Environmental Science and Policy class, Student Environmental Council, and Diversity Team headed to Annapolis for meetings with delegates and senators to advocate for Maryland House Bill 517. Students had the opportunity to voice their concerns about their futures and express their support for the amendment, which makes clear that clean air and water and a stable climate are a fundamental right for all Marylanders.

  • “Being able advocate for the Healthy Green Amendment was an experience unlike anything I’ve done before,” affirmed Sarah Lockett. ‘21 of Jacksonville, FL. “I got the opportunity to meet legislators and engage with them on something that I felt passionate about, I realized the importance of participating in enacting policies that will directly affect everyone my age and our future. If we are willing to speak, a lot of people are willing to listen.”
  • Jaylah Bryant ’21 of Upper Marlboro, MD, expressed her enthusiasm for the environmental justice focus of the amendment. “As a Marylander, the day in Annapolis meant I was able to give a voice to communities and groups of lesser means who will be affected by climate change first and worse. It is important for people to understand this amendment means we are working to bridge gaps between socioeconomic statuses and promote environmental justice throughout Maryland and all through America, too.”

West Nottingham’s sustainability program encourages students to learn the ethic of reciprocity, sustaining the earth that sustains all our lives. The program encourages the students to “walk their talk” on campus and in their home communities and to take proactive and productive actions for positive change in the world.






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