Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Day After

The day after Earth Day offers a chance for citizens of the world to reflect on how we treat our environment and what must be done to protect it.

During The Exchange on Earth Day, students at the National Constitution Center and high schools from Washington state to Kentucky deliberated over the question, “Should a clean and healthy environment be a constitutional right?” While some students believed there needed to be a constitutional amendment to protect the environment, some thought this unnecessary, but all agreed that having access to clean air, land and water was important.

When it came to legislation to regulate pollutants, some students felt that current legislation was all that was needed, and that the inadequate enforcement of laws, like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, were the culprit. Some thought that new legislation, like Cap and Trade may be warranted.

One thing that all of the young people agreed upon, was that all citizens needed to do their part to protect the environment by recycling, abandoning non-biodegradable products and promoting a more green lifestyle.

Teaching with the Constitution
Ask your students to read Article V and determine the different pathways to creating a constitutional amendment. Ask them how this can explain why our Constitution has only been amended 27 times in the last 220 years.

Ask your students to read
Article I section 8 clause 3 and determine if the federal government has the authority to regulate pollutants originating in one state that effect another state.

Ask your students to brainstorm, what they can do short of new legislation or a constitutional amendment to protect their environment?

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