Should a Clean Environment Be a Constitutional Right?

Courtesy: Maya van Rossum. Environmental activist Maya K. van Rossum will speak at DelVal on Tuesday, Sept. 11.

Aug 29, 2018

Maya K. van Rossum, an environmental activist and attorney, will discuss her book “The Green Amendment: Securing our Right to a Healthy Environment” at Delaware Valley University on Tuesday, Sept. 11. The talk will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Life Sciences Building auditorium. Guests do not need to register in advance, and there is no charge to attend.

After a decades-long fight for a cleaner environment, van Rossum feels current laws are designed to accommodate pollution rather than prevent it. In her path-breaking book “The Green Amendment,” van Rossum argues that it is time to turn to the ultimate authority: state and federal constitutions. In 2013, van Rossum and her team won a watershed legal victory against fracking in Pennsylvania communities and affirmed the constitutional right of people in the state to a clean and healthy environment. Following this victory, van Rossum inaugurated the Green Amendment movement, dedicated to empowering every American to mobilize for constitutional change. In “The Green Amendment,” van Rossum lays out a new agenda for environmental advocacy, one that she feels will finally empower people.

Since 1996, van Rossum has served as the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader for the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN). The Delaware Riverkeeper Network works throughout the four states of the Delaware River watershed (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) and at the national level using advocacy, science and litigation. As Delaware Riverkeeper, she organizes concerned citizens and testifies before state and national governing bodies. She oversees DRN litigation and watches over the Delaware River and all of its tributary streams. Through appointments by governors and agency heads, van Rossum has played a role in shaping water quality, quantity and habitat policies and regulation in the Delaware River watershed for nearly two decades. She is currently advancing the Green Amendment movement, seeking to inspire and secure constitutional protection for environmental rights across the nation.

“The natural resources of Pennsylvania and the nation belong to all Americans,” said Co-Chair of the University’s Department of Animal Biotechnology and Conservation Reg Hoyt. “While representatives in government have been entrusted to protect and preserve these resources for future generations, our laws have primarily dealt with remediation of damage rather than its prevention. Maya van Rossum is a veteran environmentalist who has worked through the Delaware Riverkeeper Network to protect the natural resources of the Delaware River watershed. Her book and presentation lay out an inspiring new agenda for empowering citizens and communities to promote environmental justice.  If you care about clean air, water, or natural areas this One Health Seminar is a must-attend event!”

The event is being sponsored by the University’s One Health Seminar Series in partnership with the Bucks County Audubon Society. 

One Health is a multi-disciplinary approach that works locally, regionally, nationally and globally to attain optimal well being for people and society, the environment and plants, and animals. Together, the three major components make up the One Health triad, and the well being of each is inextricably linked to the others in the triad.

To learn more about the One Health Seminar Series, please visit