The Constitutional Right to Save the Environment

January 2022
ELR 10007
Sen. Franklin L. Kury, John C. Dernbach, Julia Olson, and Barry E. Hill

More than 50 years ago, Franklin Kury drafted and championed an Environmental Rights Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution. His book, The Constitutional Question to Save the Planet: The Right to a Healthy Environment (ELI Press 2021), expands upon the story of his amendment to demonstrate how its principles can be the basis for addressing climate change in the rest of the world. On October 13, 2021, the Environmental Law Institute hosted Kury and leading experts to explore the impact environmental rights amendments can have on stabilizing the climate system through legal channels at the state and federal levels. Here, we present a transcript of that discussion, which has been edited for style, clarity, and space considerations.

Sen. Franklin L. Kury is a Former Member of the Pennsylvania State Senate and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. John C. Dernbach is Director of the Environmental Law and Sustainability Center, and Commonwealth Professor of Environmental Law and Sustainability at the Widener University Commonwealth Law School. Julia Olson is Executive Director and Chief Legal Counsel of Our Children’s Trust. Barry E. Hill is Adjunct Faculty at Vermont Law School and a Visiting Scholar at the Environmental Law Institute.