Ecological Restoration in the RI Constitution
I was doing my homework for the EJ stakeholder process writing new procedures to ensure Environmental Justice in RI when I came across Article 1 Section 17 of the RI constitution.
Section 17. Fishery rights — Shore privileges — Preservation of natural resources. — The people shall continue to enjoy and freely exercise all the rights of fishery, and the privileges of the shore, to which they have been heretofore entitled under the charter and usages of this state, including but not limited to fishing from the shore, the gathering of seaweed, leaving the shore to swim in the sea and passage along the shore; and they shall be secure in their rights to the use and enjoyment of the natural resources of the state with due regard for the preservation of their values; and it shall be the duty of the general assembly to provide for the conservation of the air, land, water, plant, animal, mineral and other natural resources of the state, and to adopt all means necessary and proper by law to protect the natural environment of the people of the state by providing adequate resource planning for the control and regulation of the use of the natural resources of the state and for the preservation, regeneration and restoration of the natural environment of the state.
It was a revelation. I know Article 1 Section 17 is at the heart of the Separation of Powers debate around CRMC, but I never knew it required the restoration of the natural environment.
As a person who has focused for quite a while on the need to restore ecosystems in order to revitalize the RI economy, this gives me an additional tool. I can point out to the legislature and other governmental bodies that their mandate includes restoration, and that that wisdom is the economic way forward. I suspect i will be using it.