CEJ staff attorney Rob Williams has submitted comments on the draft BMAP for Wakulla Springs, addressed to DEP’s BMAP Coordinator Stephen Cioccia, with copies to Secretary Herschel Vinyard and Deputy Secretary Drew Bartlett. The letter focuses on the failure of the proposed BMAP to acknowledge what the Department’s own data shows: the significant contribution of septic tanks to the deterioration of Wakulla Springs, and the lack of any meaningful action by the Department to prevent further compromise and to restore the water quality and quantity.    

From the letter:

The Center for Earth Jurisprudence’s approach to the issues raised by the proposed plan reflects our belief that humanity has a foundational responsibility to care for and protect the long term health and well-being of the entire Earth community–that is, all beings and ecosystems that constitute the natural world.

. . . .

These conditions are the result of 376 tons of nitrate per year going into the Upper Floridan Aquifer. It is as if someone drove a pickup truck onto the dock at Wakulla Springs and shoveled a ton of fertilizer into the Spring every day of the year. Obviously, the park rangers would not allow that—why does DEP continue to permit our springs to be polluted?

We can solve this problem if we have the will to take meaningful action now, not as the Department proposes, five years from now. . . . So far the BMAP process has been a missed opportunity for our communities to come together and protect a priceless piece of our common heritage for our children and our children’s children. We can do better.

Read the full text of the letter here. Read the appendix here.

Photo by Harley Means

Photo by Harley Means
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I’M SHOWING UP.

AS A BABY-BOOMER FROM THE U.S.

AS A PERSON OF FAITH.

I’m going to the People’s Climate March in New York on September 21.

The security of our home, planet Earth, is threatened. That’s why I’m going. It’s not the terrorists, nor the immigrants, nor people who are poor that is causing this threat to Earth’s viability. It’s the continued excessive emissions of greenhouse gases created by those of us who live in highly industrialized, corporatized, and technology-rich countries.

We baby-boomers in the U.S. are uniquely responsible for this major climate disruption. We’ve benefitted enormously from a way of life that provides every convenience, gadget, and technology, beyond anything imagined by our parents. We’ve bought into the increased consumerism and easy access to a way of life made possible by increased use of fossil fuels. We taught our children to do the same. We didn’t know to teach them that Earth has capacity limits, just like every family.

Thousands are marching to reinforce the critical importance of the United Nations Climate Summit. I’m showing up with young and old, indigenous and immigrants, conservatives and liberals, business and labor, and people of every race, color and creed from all 50 states. Together we will march, sing, and pray along the 26 blocks of the march route. We hope that our presence will demonstrate to the world leaders that they must take urgent action to prevent further ecological threats and mitigate the damage already done.

We’re marching to demonstrate our solidarity with everyone who has a commitment to change the environmentally destructive ways we are living as a people—for the sake of our children and a viable future. We’ll march on behalf of all our kin:  the threatened and endangered species, ecosystems, and watersheds that are dying because of shifting climate patterns.

I’m going to publicly witness my own complicity in bringing about this major threat to Earth our home, to the people of the small island nations, and to the people, plants and animals who struggle to survive in already decimated deserts, forests and pastoral lands. Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, says it’s time for the elders to step up and take responsibility for the mess we’ve created. The youth of the world didn’t create this threat and we shouldn’t leave it to them alone to fix.

I’m going as the Director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence, joining with colleagues who are advancing a rights-of-nature framework for protecting the spontaneity and ecological processes of the natural world. We’ll attend a special panel presentation on Tuesday, September 23, organized by WECAN, the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, on Rights of Nature and Systemic Change in Climate Solutions. Panelists will address a new legal paradigm which treats nature as a rights-bearing entity. Recognition of the inherent rights of nature to exist and flourish is at the heart of genuine climate solutions.

I’m showing up and marching as a Catholic Sister, joining others from the 28 interfaith groups who have endorsed the march. As a woman of faith, I believe it’s our moral responsibility to care for all of creation. Our core identity flows from belonging to the whole. We’re not meant to be separate. We’re an integral part of an emergent Universe and kin to all that exists.

Today, love of our neighbor means love for all the species and life systems that sustain planetary wholeness. The entire cosmos is the handwork of a God who not only set this Universe in motion, but also embedded God’s very self into it. What’s at stake with climate disruption isn’t only the future existence and flourishing of the planet, it’s the existence and flourishing of the sacred within ourselves as well.

Talk and debate about climate disruption have been going on for years, to no avail. Meanwhile, the laws of physics wait for no one. I pray we’ll have the spiritual strength, discipline and creativity to make the necessary changes in our laws, economics, and relationships, so we can live as a single comprehensive community and mitigate the devastation being done to Earth and to those who are most vulnerable. Now is the time for world leaders to mobilize into action.

I’m marching in New York on September 21 to show my commitment to making the necessary changes. Will our leaders have the moral courage to make bold changes as well?

This article was previously published in slightly different form in the Global Sisters Report.

I write to speak of a transition at CEJ that begins today. Transitioning can be a time of expectation and excitement, or a time of hesitation and dread. Fortunately the CEJ transition is one of excitement.

Starting July 1, I am beginning a year’s sabbatical and leave of absence from CEJ and Barry Law School in order to reflect and write. It is satisfying to leave the work and mission of CEJ in the competent, capable and experienced hands of Jane Goddard, Acting Director, and Rob Williams, CEJ Staff Attorney.  In addition, yesterday we added Jane Marsden to our team as CEJ’s administrative assistant.

For some time now, I’ve been hankering to find some down time to study and reflect upon the changes and rapid developments in the field of Earth Jurisprudence and Rights of Nature.  CEJ began in 2006 and the Earth jurisprudence movement has burgeoned since then. In 2006 only a handful of folks such as Thomas Berry, Mike Bell, Cormac Cullinan, and Liz Hosken, with her wonderful colleagues  from the Gaia Foundation in London, were speaking of the contours and core principles of Earth jurisprudence. I have always considered myself blessed to begin the Center of Earth Jurisprudence under their wise and welcoming mentoring.

Now the Rights of Nature movement is recognized internationally. The formation of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature in 2010 and its recent first World Ethics Tribunal on the Rights of Mother Earth held in Ecuador in January demonstrate the significant eco-centric cultural and legal shifts that are emerging across the planet. It seems that many of us are finding our way back into a reciprocal relationship with the natural world. Our indigenous brothers and sisters remain our teachers, reminding us that all other species are our brothers and sisters. We are all of one web.

So, as we move into the fullness of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, I take leave of CEJ and go into a period of networking and then hibernation so I can settle into writing. I look forward to seeing some of you along the way at various CEJ and Earth law events. In February I have the honor of working with Dr. Vandana Shiva and co-teaching a workshop with her and Dr. Mira Shiva, on “Building an Earth Democracy” at the Earth University in Dehradun, India. More information on this international workshop will be posted  shortly.

During this sabbatical year, I promise to remain grounded in this work  and ask for your prayer and support for the expansion of CEJ and its mission to advocate for legal policies and cultural changes that respect the rights all beings to exist and fulfill their propose.

May this be a time of abundance for each of you as well.

Fondly,

Sister Pat

Magnolia Time (photo by Jane Goddard)

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