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The Great Salt Lake is disappearing… So Utah bans the rights of nature.

Image by Erin Testone.

Although Utah’s state government has failed to save the Great Salt Lake from the brink of collapse, on March 20, 2024, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed a law banning state and local governments from granting legal personality to animals, plants or large ecosystems. such as the Great Salt Lake. The law is a response to a growing natural rights movement in Utah that wants to secure legal status for the Great Salt Lake. By passing this law, Utah joins Ohio and Florida in banning wildlife rights in response to popular grassroots campaigns seeking to ensure rights-based protections for the ecosystems on which life depends. Because natural rights laws would disrupt corporate exploitation of the natural world, these legislative efforts to suppress the rights of the nature movement are entirely predictable and comparable to historical efforts to suppress other rights-based movements, such as the civil rights and women’s suffrage movements. Rather than giving up in the face of setbacks like these, natural rights advocates must learn how to enforce natural rights outside of courtrooms and the legislative process, while adapting tactics and strategies for the long game of transforming the legal system into one with a legal system. framing rights of nature.

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Will Falk has worked and lived with protesters on Mauna Kea trying to block the construction of an 18-story astronomical observatory with an Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).

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