Defending the Rights of Lake Erie

by Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

Defending the Rights of Lake Erie

by Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
Case Owner
CELDF is representing Lake Erie and Toledo residents in their joint request to participate as full parties in the lawsuit filed by the agricultural industry against the City of Toledo.
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Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
Case Owner
CELDF is representing Lake Erie and Toledo residents in their joint request to participate as full parties in the lawsuit filed by the agricultural industry against the City of Toledo.
Pledge now

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Latest: April 18, 2019

State of Ohio Acts on Behalf of Corporate Agriculture

The state of Ohio has filed a motion to intervene in this case - on behalf of corporate agriculture rather than Lake Erie and Toledo. They claim that the Lake Erie Bill of Rights will harm the stat...

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In February, Toledo, Ohio, residents adopted the Lake Erie Bill of Rights with 61% of the vote – the first rights-based law in the United States that specifically acknowledges the rights of a distinct ecosystem.

It was an extraordinary win, coming after months of government and corporate interests intent on blocking citizens from voting on their own initiative. Toledo residents even overcame Houston-based BP Corporation’s outspending them 50:1 in the company’s anti-Lake Erie Bill of Rights campaign.

With the vote of Toledoans, the Lake’s rights to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve were secured in law. Less than 24 hours later, corporate agriculture filed a lawsuit to overturn it.

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) assisted Toledo community members to draft the citizen’s initiative and overcome obstacles to placing it on the ballot. Today, we are helping them to defend and enforce it - and other Rights of Nature laws across the country.

Toxic Algae Bloom

People have sought to protect Lake Erie from pollution caused by industrial agriculture, open lake dumping, and other harms, for decades. Despite valiant efforts by concerned activists, it continues to deteriorate. Governments and regulatory agencies repeatedly fail to take meaningful action.

The cost is to the Lake, communities, and ecosystems. In 2014, over 500,000 Toledo residents had no access to water for three days because of a toxic algae bloom.

They had enough.

Taking Action

Toledo community members learned about the Rights of Nature movement growing across the United States and around the world. They partnered with CELDF to draft the Lake Erie Bill of Rights. Toledo resident Crys Jankowski stated, “Lake Erie is an ecosystem upon which we are inextricably connected. The Lake has the right to exist, flourish, and evolve. While our laws, until now, have treated Lake Erie as an object to be exploited, we recognize that the Lake is a living entity, and we will defend the Lake’s rights. Our lives depend upon it.”

Making History

This first law in the United States to recognize the rights of a distinct ecosystem reverberated around the world. From US News & World Report, CNN, and NPR, to Le Monde in France, Lifegate in Italy, and the BBC in England, the Lake Erie Bill of Rights and the work of Toledoans have captured the hearts and minds of people internationally.

There was only one response from the corporate state to this growing shift in consciousness of nature’s rights: attempting to quash the law as quickly as possible.

Legal Action

CELDF is representing Lake Erie and Toledo residents in their joint request to participate as full parties in the lawsuit filed by the agricultural industry against the City of Toledo.

If we win, this will be a groundbreaking moment in the Rights of Nature movement – beginning to transform how our legal system treats nature, from a resource to be dumped on for profit, to an entity that inherently has rights to exist and flourish.

If we lose, Lake Erie will continue to be polluted. A growing “dead zone” will continue to slowly kill the Lake. Surrounding communities will continue to face the threat of having no access to clean and safe water.

Support Our Work to Defend and Enforce the Lake Erie Bill of Rights!

Your support will help CELDF drive forward Rights of Nature cases, including LEBOR, as we litigate: conducting research, drafting briefs and motions, and covering costs for in person hearings in federal court.

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Update 1

Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

April 18, 2019

State of Ohio Acts on Behalf of Corporate Agriculture

The state of Ohio has filed a motion to intervene in this case - on behalf of corporate agriculture rather than Lake Erie and Toledo. They claim that the Lake Erie Bill of Rights will harm the state's ability to protect the Lake!

Two months ago, the people of Toledo did what their local and state representatives would not: They determined to protect the Great Lake Erie by recognizing in law the Lake’s rights to exist, flourish, and evolve.

And now, the very same state government that has failed to protect Lake Erie and Toledo residents wants to stop the people of Toledo from doing so. 

Your support will help us not only to fight for Lake Erie and Toledo residents, but to continue advancing nature's rights in the Great Lakes region and beyond. Please donate to help our campaign - and spread the word to your friends and family. Every dollar and every share counts!

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