Florida Creeks — Yes, the Bodies of Water — Sue to Enforce ‘Nature Rights’

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Seagulls fly over the flooded banks of the River Seine after days of rainy weather in Paris, France, February 4, 2021. (Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

The “nature rights” movement is stunningly anti-human. It not only removes the concept of “rights” from the strictly human realm — us, our juridical entities and associations, etc. — but was created to thwart human enterprise. You see, these laws permit anyone to enforce the supposed rights of nature to “exist and persist,” meaning everyone has legal standing in court, whether personally affected or not.

Last year, Orange County, Fla., approved a nature-rights law for the area’s waterways — foolishly believing it was only about keeping them clean. That law may not be valid as the state government had previously passed a law preempting such local ordinances.

But that hasn’t stopped Orange County creeks and lakes from suing — yes, you read those words correctly — to prevent a local park project as violating the waterways’ putative rights. (The real litigant is a local environmentalist named Charles O’Neal. The waterways, as mere geological features, are not sentient.) From the Florida Politics story:

As allowed under a radical, untested legal theory dating to the 1970s, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and a developer are being sued by Wilde Cypress Branch, Boggy Branch, Crosby Island Marsh, Lake Hart, and Lake Mary Jane, along with O’Neal, who is best known as president of the conservation organization Speak up Wekiva . . .

The plaintiffs contend Beachline South Residential LLC’s proposed “Meridian Parks Remainder” development would harm those waterways and therefore would violate provisions in the Orange County Charter.

I don’t know whether the project is beneficial for the area and its environment or not. It doesn’t matter. Deciding whether to allow such work should be determined by the relevant local-government bodies.

But rights of nature essentially moots that representative process and grants tremendous impeding power to environmental activists, not only diminishing democratic control but potentially preventing projects that would offer tremendous benefit to humans from even being conceived. After all, why go to all the trouble of creating the plan, getting the permits, etc.. if local greens can sue it to a complete halt or force developers and government agencies to engage in an expensive and time-consuming legal defense?

Do you see the potential for tremendous mischief and severe harm to human thriving that the nature-rights movement intends? Do you not agree that this movement has to — finally — be taken seriously and stopped while in the embryonic stage?

Hopefully, Florida’s preempting law will require dismissal of this case. But the lesson here is that Congress and every state should enact preemption laws now. If this movement breaks through, it won’t just be parks and local water projects put at risk. Wait until “nature” sues to stop humans from warming the planet.