The Green Amendment: The People's Fight for a Clean, Safe, and Healthy Environment (Paperback)
A veteran environmentalist shares her roadmap to a healthier world—one that uses the law to empower activists and provide hope for communities everywhere.
We have reached a critical tipping point in our fight for the environment: Corporations profit off climate change, natural disasters devastate homes, and the most vulnerable suffer the health effects of pollution. Yet our laws are designed to accommodate this destruction rather than prevent it. Without government support, it’s no wonder people feel powerless.
But there is a solution. In The Green Amendment, veteran environmentalist Maya K. van Rossum presents her radically simple plan for a green future: bypass local laws and turn to the ultimate authority—our state and federal constitutions—to ensure we have the right to a healthy environment.
Through compelling interviews with activists on the ground, clear evidence from experts, and heartbreaking stories from those hit hardest by environmental ruin, The Green Amendment lights the path forward. In this updated edition of her trailblazing 2017 book, van Rossum invites readers to join the movement by sharing:
- Why Green Amendments work where other movements have failed
- How to position Green Amendments and what specific language offers the strongest legal protections
- How to argue in favor of environmental rights, and the economic and health benefits that will help activists make the case
- How Green Amendments address the crucial intersection of environmentalism and anti-racism
- What everyone—from artists and students to scientists and lawyer—can do to further the cause
With the power of The Green Amendment, we can claim our environmental rights, ensuring a clean, safe Earth for generations to come.
About the Author
Maya K. van Rossum is the founder of Green Amendments For the Generations, a grassroots non-profit inspiring constitutional recognition and protection of environmental rights in every state and ultimately at the federal level. van Rossum is also the Delaware Riverkeeper, leading the 4 state, watershed-based advocacy organization, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, for 30 years. She co-hosts Green Genes, an environmental podcast with her daughter. Since launching her Green Amendment movement, New York passed a Green Amendment in 2021, proposals are advancing in 12 additional states, and there is increasing use of amendments in Pennsylvania and Montana. She lives in Delaware County Pennsylvania with her family.
"An optimistic and often enthralling book of advocacy for environmental justice."
"If we were writing our Constitution for the first time today, wise leaders would surely insert protections for our environment."
—Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy, Eaarth, and Radio Free Vermont
"Van Rossum hopes [green amendments] and other strategies will turn the tide against the advancing degradation of our planet; it's a hope readers will share after finishing The Green Amendment."
“In an age of environmental pessimism, van Rossum gives me hope.”
—Mark Ruffalo, actor, clean water activist, Founder of Water Defense, and Cofounder of The Solutions Project
"A rallying cry not only for conservationists and wildlife biologists, but for pediatricians, teachers, psychologists, architects, city planners—everyone who is concerned about the welfare of all species, including human beings. Please read this important book."
—Richard Louv, Chairman Emeritus of the Children Nature Network and author of Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle
"You will be inspired by the notion, transformed into a call for a constitutional amendment, that we, the people, have always had more power than we thought."
—A.R. Ingraffea, PhD, PE, Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering Emeritus and Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow at Cornell University
"Maya’s latest book…will help expand readers’ knowledge and understanding of what it means to work to protect our fragile environment."
—Joanne Ferrary, State Representative, D-New Mexico
“This book is an inspiration and a road map....well-written, engaging, and informative."
—Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, State Senator, D-New Mexico
"The Green Amendment asks us to imagine a world in which the right to pure water and healthy air exist on par with due process and free speech—and then shows us how to make it so."
—Sandra Steingraber, PhD, author of Living Downstream and Raising Elijah, recipient of the Rachel Carson Leadership Award, and Cofounder of New Yorkers Against Fracking
"Constitutional protection of natural and human communities may be our best hope for survival."
—Bradley M. Campbell, President of the Conservation Law Foundation, former Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and former Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency