Voters to Decide the Legal Status of Lake Erie

Voters in Toledo, Ohio could grant personhood status to the polluted and abused Lake Erie.
February 22, 2019, 2pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

The citizens of Toledo, Ohio will vote on a controversial legal bill on February 26, reports Daniel McGraw, to decide whether Lake Erie has the same legal rights as a corporation or person.

"There have been cities and townships in the United States that have passed ordinances making some types of polluting illegal, but no American city or state has changed the legality of nature in a way that is this big and this extensive – effectively giving personhood to a gigantic lake," according to McGraw.

Rivers in Colombia, New Zealand, and India have been granted legal status, however. A lawsuit to sue for the personhood of the Colorado River, filed in 2017, eventually failed.

If voters approve the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, citizens will become the legal guardians of the lake. "If passed, citizens could sue a polluter on behalf of the lake, and if the court finds the polluter guilty, the judge could impose penalties in the form of designated clean-ups and/or prevention programs," reports McGraw.

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Published on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 in The Guardian
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