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In the early 2000s, the idea of giving legal rights to nature was on the fringes of environmental legal theory and public consciousness. Today, New Zealand’s Whanganui River is a person under domestic law, and India’s Ganges River was recently granted human rights. In Ecuador, the Constitution enshrines nature’s “right to integral respect”.
…A movement has grown at Standing Rock, inspiring the largest gathering of American Indian tribes in over a century. In attempting to understand this historical contestation over water resources and tribal sovereignty, the question of treaty rights has been on the lips of Standing Rock water protectors, as well as scholars, community leaders, politicians, and commentators.
Department of Justice, Department of Interior, Army Corps of Engineers halt Dakota Access Pipeline, call for reexamination of tribal consultation processes. More background on #NoDAPL at nytimes.com or via your preferred search.
Three lawsuits are testing whether groundwater is legally connected to surface waters such as rivers and lakes. Scientifically, the connection is clear, but if a regulatory tie can be established also, that would be a strong step to improved water quality.