February 10, 2012

Santa Monica grants residents green power via sustainability bill of rights

If you're feeling enslaved to the third smoggiest metropolitan area in the country, perhaps you should pack up and move to Santa Monica, a city promising green rights to its residents.

Santa Monica City Council voted in favor of a Sustainability Bill of Rights last month, which will be incorporated into the existing Sustainable City Plan in the late summer or early fall of 2012. The Bill of Rights grants individuals green liberties, including the following:
- Clean, affordable and accessible water from sustainable water sources.
- A sustainable energy future based on renewable energy sources.
- A sustainable natural climate system unaltered by fossil fuel emissions.
- Sustainable, comprehensive waste disposal systems that do not degrade the environment.
- Clean indoor and outdoor air, clean water and clean soil that pose a negligible health risk to the public.
- A sustainable food system that provides healthy, locally grown food to the community.
The resolution "declares City recognition for the fundamental rights of natural communities and ecosystems to exist, thrive and evolve" and "supports effectuating these rights by modifying local law and policy as needed to better protect and sustain the natural environment for current and future generations," per the City Council report.

Green LA Girl says financial impacts have not been defined and will likely come with a cost. 

The Bill of Rights was discussed during the latest LA Bioneers meeting where speaker Shannon Biggs of Global Exchange noted that 140 U.S. communities have passed similar ordinances and are successfully banning environmentally destructive actions like fracking, water withdrawal, factory farming and uranium mining.

This natural rights movement "is based on the belief that Earth is a community whose members are humans, other animals, plants, rivers, streams end eco-systems and that all members of the community must have rights to ensure the sustainability of the whole," according to the City Council report. Per the Bill of Rights, individuals are also permitted to sue in the name of nature.

Heal the Bay lists additional Bill of Rights requirements as:

- 100% self-sufficiency in development of a local water supply by 2020.
- 100% sustainable net renewable energy used in the City by 2020.
- 50% increase by 2020 in total miles of bike paths and bike lanes over 2005 levels.
- 25% of the food sold in the City originating from sustainable food systems. 

Who Decides, Santa Monica? has been covering the Bill of Rights, and you can read their coverage here.


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