Because so many people, especially children, are suffering poor health, a law is needed to stop or reduce pollution. Liberties, especially privacy, are also under threat with impunity, and a law is needed to prevent such wanton disregard. We are working on a draft to address environmental responsibility, at the least. Suggestions are welcome. A petition initiative will be necessary--please volunteer to help!
The draft below is probably going to be tossed, at this point, in favor of something more concrete to check the use of pollutants. Why? One, because the concept below does not have a mechanism to prevent the pollution, and instead is statement against such pollution. While courts may use this as a reason to punish someone after the fact, more needs to be done beforehand to prevent harm in the first place. Still, we've left up our former draft.
While this is being revised, some of the considerations to comply with Massachusetts state law regarding what can be set before voters, include:
Liberty cannot subsist without life, and life is naught or is diminished without liberty. Life and liberty can be diminished or destroyed without clean water, air, and natural resources; and life and liberty also depend on the sustainability and health of the natural environment. Hence, the people have the right to clean air, clean water, and even conservation of natural resources, for it is known that the extinction of even the lowliest worm could bring humanity to its knees. Life without liberty is hardly a life at all; hence tyranny is prevented by rights enshrined in the Constitution, including freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of elections, peaceable assembly, and access to courts of justice, to trial by jury, and protection from unreasonable search and seizure.
As a natural right of the people, irreversible harm or serious risks to the people’s lives and liberties shall be forbidden.
This natural right shall be expressed as the Precautionary Principle Proper, and shall apply to any activity or product that poses a threat to these rights, including but not limited to old and new technologies, materials, pharmaceuticals, systems, infrastructure, and development, with exemptions only as expressly stated. Technology of a biological, chemical, electromagnetic nature, and a combination thereof, as well as instigators of ecological disruption shall fall under the purview of the Precautionary Principle Proper for the purpose of protecting human rights, including liberty, autonomy, human and environmental health.
The Precautionary Principle Proper applies where scientific evidence is insufficient, inconclusive or uncertain and preliminary scientific evaluation indicates that there are reasonable grounds for concern. Even if research is missing and a causal link has not been definitively proven or has only a low likelihood, precautionary measures are taken to effectively prevent possible harm. The Precautionary Principle Proper recognizes that reasonable grounds for concern may be evident to ordinary intelligence or common sense even when scientific evidence is lacking.
Two necessary components of preventative action for fulfilling the Precautionary Principle Proper are the Principle of Reverse Onus and the Principle of Alternative Assessment.
The Principle of Reverse Onus, under which it is the responsibility of those supporting an action or product to show that it is not seriously harmful, shifts the burden of proof away from those potentially harmed by the action. The burden of proving safety and of honesty shall rest on the proponent of the activity or product. The question of safety shall consider all potential risks, and shall be inclusive of all concerns and concerned parties.
The Principle of Alternative Assessment requires that no potentially harmful action will be undertaken if there are alternative actions available that safely achieve the same goals as the action proposed; and in the same way no potentially harmful product will be utilized if there are alternative products available that safely accomplish the same purpose.
Under the Precautionary Principle Proper, irreversible harm or serious risks are forbidden until safety is established, meaning that divestment and bans are mandated regarding activities or products threatening irreversible harm or serious risks until safety is established. When necessary to account for disposal of products, to prevent sudden loss of necessary utilities, or to prevent destitution and other ensuing danger to lives and liberties, a process and timeline for divestment and bans to remove risks as safely and securely as possible. In instituting precautionary measures, risks of action and non-action shall be taken into account so as to develop a plan for removal of serious risks and irreversible harm that can be practically implemented for the benefit of the people.
The scope of the Precautionary Principle Proper shall be limited to allow for the natural existence of poisons, radiation, or deadly chemicals in plants or other natural forms, provided these are confined to forms found in nature or not modified in a manner which concentrates harmful properties so as to pose serious threats. To attempt to deny Nature all of her poisons is foolish and quite impossible; one cannot fight Nature. In contrast, the Precautionary Principle Proper may apply to introduced and harmful exotic species or other significant natural ecological disruptions in order to protect the natural environment, as these may be a significant threat to the health and diversity of the environment on which human beings depend.
Similarly exempted from the Precautionary Principle Proper are traditional herbalism and foods, provided that these are not altered by non-traditional technology such as genetic engineering, synthetic ingredients, and other unconventional, unnatural modern ingredients or devices during preparation. In the case of traditional foods and herbalism, regulation must be based on known harm and proven scientific evidence. Such an exemption is necessary to respect natural and cultural needs, and to prevent abuse of the principle to tie up resources that should be spent on actual risks.
The scope of the Precautionary Principle Proper shall also be limited to allow an individual to take a non-polluting dare-devil physical risk, for one may choose how to live one’s own life when not endangering others and because risks are inherent in even healthy activities such as sports; nonetheless, the Commonwealth may regulate physical activities of organized sports to improve safety. The Commonwealth shall also regulate to prevent addiction, abuse, development of destructive or sociopathic cults and behaviors in particular to protect youth and secondly any other targeted vulnerable populations.
A final limit to the Precautionary Principle Proper shall be allowance for mitigating benefits. When a risk coincides with substantial mitigating benefits, lack of an acceptable or better alternative, and does not pose undue risk as defined below, then a risk may be taken provided transparency, monitoring, and prudent cautionary measures are taken which limit the possibility of harm are also taken. The burden shall rest with the proponents to prove substantial mitigating benefits.
Undue risks are defined as follows:
And when a risk is deemed acceptable, transparency shall exist. Whether or not the causal link has been proven, individuals impacted by a potentially risky product or activity shall be informed of certain and potential threats before use or sale. Neither shall informed consent be fraudulent, forcing consent by association with other services, bribery, or any element of force. In no case should collective community agreement or the consent of a community leader or other authority substitute for an individual’s informed consent.
Any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, except for quarantine or when an individual is incapacitated by medical emergency. The consent should, where appropriate, be expressed and may be withdrawn by the person concerned at any time and for any reason without disadvantage or prejudice. For cases where an individual is most certainly incapable of intellectual decisions regarding informed consent due to mental incompetence, legal guardians are charged with decision making and medical doctors with providing the safest measures of treatment.
The executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Commonwealth shall uphold the Precautionary Principle Proper, each within the parameters of the duties accorded to each branch, and local government shall also uphold the Precautionary Principle Proper. The principle shall apply not only to government, but to individuals, associations, businesses, and other groups.
In the furtherance of the Precautionary Principle Proper, the general court shall have the power to provide for the accountability of individuals, businesses, and all branches of local and state government in fulfilling the Precautionary Principle Proper. When damage is linked to a product or activity, compensation, in full whenever possible, shall be provided by the instigator and punitive damages may be required. When bribery, personal enrichment, negligence, or other corruption is the cause of delay and denial in enacting the Precautionary Principle Proper, then punitive damages shall apply.
The general court shall have the power to enact legislation necessary or expedient to support the Precautionary Principle Proper. To expedite legislation that falls under the Precautionary Principle Proper, legislation may be brought to a transparent roll-call vote in either original form or redrafted form at the request of just one legislator when the legislation only contains subjects that are related or mutually dependent, has sponsorship of fifty state legislators, and a case can be made that the legislation is relevant to the Precautionary Principle Proper. The roll-call vote shall be preceded by the legislator making a case for the legislation and followed by a voice vote as to whether to allow for the Precautionary Principle. The voice vote may be challenged by the legislator and a roll-call vote demanded. If a decision is made that the legislation deserves a vote based on the Precautionary Principle Proper, a vote shall be scheduled no sooner than ten and no later than 15 days following the request, at which time there shall be a roll-call vote.
For the purpose of advancing the Precautionary Principle Proper, the executive branch shall insure the public is informed and notified on key elements when the Commonwealth takes action as result of the Precautionary Principle Proper. Further, the executive branch shall maintain a current and public list that clearly defines substances and activities that serve as the Commonwealth’s safer alternatives. The executive branch shall further maintain a public and current list that clearly defines substances and activities that have been banned or are in stages of removal alongside a timeline. When inclusion on such a list may induce a greater danger, such as short sales or dumping, inclusion on the public list may be delayed while a system is developed to prevent dangers arising from notification.
Intervention or decisions by the United States federal government shall be challenged when necessary to continue to uphold the Precautionary Principle Proper.