This lake now has legal rights, just like you

  • Published: 29 April 2019
  • Why the “rights of nature” could be the next frontier for environmentalism.
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    Read more about the movement behind the Lake Erie Bill of Rights:

    The Lake Erie Bill of Rights is the first law of its kind in the United States. In February of 2019, the residents of Toledo, Ohio voted to give Lake Erie's entire ecosystem legal rights. That means any citizen of Toledo, if they have credible evidence that a corporation or government is harming the lake, can file a lawsuit on behalf of Lake Erie in court.

    The Lake Erie Bill of Rights is part of a larger movement to give legal rights to mountains, rivers, forests, and other natural objects. The citizens of these communities -- from Pennsylvania, to Ecuador, to New Zealand -- argue that because their long-term survival is dependent on the health of their natural surroundings, anything that harms the lakes, rivers, or forests they depend on should be considered a legal harm.

    It’s a totally new way of approaching the law, and it could change the very nature of our relationship with the natural world. This is how one community in Ohio started what they hope will be a nationwide movement.

    Further Reading:

    The National Center for Water Quality at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio has a great site ( on harmful algae blooms.

    This feature from Belt Magazine ( goes into more detail about some of the other agricultural practices that contribute to Lake Erie’s harmful algal blooms.

    This in-depth explainer ( from Civil Eats goes into more detail about the rise of CAFOs in the Western Lake Erie Basin.

    Ohio Sea Grant ( is another excellent resource for learning about harmful algae blooms.

    Pam Taylor’s group, Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan, published a report in collaboration with the Sierra Club ( on the impact of manure spreading in the Western Lake Erie Basin.

    If you want to learn more about how larger industrial farm operations view the issue, this blog post ( from the Ohio Farm Bureau outlines why they’re fighting the Lake Erie Bill of Rights in court. is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out

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Comments • 3 361

  • Vox
    Vox   6 months back

    We're hosting a livestream Q&A with Elizabeth Scheltens, the creator of this video, for Video Lab members next on Thursday, May 9th! Senior Vox producer Joss Fong will be moderating, so if you have questions about our journalistic process, video production, research, animation techniques, or anything else, be sure to sign up here to get them answered live on stream!

    • LegStitchedTiger Ftw
      LegStitchedTiger Ftw  3 months back

      Vox 100th like

    • Michael
      Michael  4 months back

      rights end where they begin infringing on the rights of others!! Corporations lose to eerie

  • eoin ye
    eoin ye  4 hours back


    • Halsey Lynn
      Halsey Lynn  22 hours back

      Between nature and corporations, of COURSE the nature's rights should win out. There would be no corporations without nature.

      • Andy Johnson
        Andy Johnson  2 days back

        I'm in central eastern Ohio, we have a local chicken processing plant in Canton. They slaughter 250k chickens a shift or 500,000 a day because they sanitize 3rd shift. All of them 4-5 weeks old, same size as at Costco. They start eating and defecating NON-STOP for 5 weeks, just doing the math blows my mind. $4.99 chickens is the reason

        • Hubble Tea
          Hubble Tea  4 days back

          Ah yes. CAFO. Definitely not a new word for factory/industrial farm.

          • Felix Bibian
            Felix Bibian  7 days back

            So if the lake drowns a kid does it go to jail

            • JBNZ
              JBNZ  1 weeks back

              Your rights cannon infringe upon another entities rights.

              • Red Hat Duckie Boi
                Red Hat Duckie Boi  3 weeks back

                Lake Erie v. Board of Education

                • darkangel13915
                  darkangel13915  3 weeks back

                  hello internet

                  • Travels of fastjet
                    Travels of fastjet  3 weeks back

                    I that first image I could see my house

                    • Crosh
                      Crosh  4 weeks back

                      Yo, I threw a rock at Lake Erie once, am I going to jail now? Lol

                      • 332211
                        332211  4 weeks back


                        • francisca Combeau
                          francisca Combeau  4 weeks back

                          So once again meat consumption causing trouble huh?

                          • Vadim Bobov
                            Vadim Bobov  4 weeks back

                            is the right to do business, the same as the right to pollute and destroy our homes and the homes of all life?

                            • truths of knowledge
                              truths of knowledge  1 months back

                              Well that's Erie!!

                              • Alexis Maria
                                Alexis Maria  1 months back

                                If corporations can have the same right as humans than why can we not do the same for our mother...

                                • Niko Chevinson
                                  Niko Chevinson  1 months back

                                  If business have the right to do business, they also have the right to cease exist. They can change location relatively easy. Humans can move, but lakes? Laugh me a two cents...

                                  • ultimate destroyer 231
                                    ultimate destroyer 231  1 months back

                                    Y do whites drink tap water i thought it could have bad things in it

                                    • Original Taboo
                                      Original Taboo  1 months back

                                      It’s ridiculous to think that we deserve clean water, air and a future for our planet.

                                      • The0Stroy
                                        The0Stroy  1 months back

                                        Here in Poland, we need Białowieża forest bill of rights. But I can't see it happening any time soon.

                                        • jason yee
                                          jason yee  1 months back

                                          Lake Erie is also polluted in Southwestern Ontario

                                          • NSA
                                            NSA  1 months back

                                            Why does this feel like a vid to support veganism lol

                                            • Moose
                                              Moose  1 months back

                                              GOOOO!!!! ERRIRE

                                              • michael junior
                                                michael junior  1 months back

                                                i believe this has become a legal norm for all nations to give nature some legal rights. in the philippines we call it writ of kalikasan(nature).

                                                • Harry Fluellen
                                                  Harry Fluellen  1 months back

                                                  Can I assault the lake?

                                                  • Andrei Yang
                                                    Andrei Yang  1 months back

                                                    1:47 Oh no no no that phrase has such a different meaning now

                                                    Please use "they drained it".

                                                    • Cityoftrashcans Is trash
                                                      Cityoftrashcans Is trash  1 months back

                                                      My mom got married the first day when this happened. I remember her waking me up by screaming "DONT DRINK THE WATER"

                                                      • calvin the person
                                                        calvin the person  2 months back

                                                        Does it have the right to consent?

                                                        • Jaleel Connelly
                                                          Jaleel Connelly  2 months back

                                                          Idk 🤔...this video’s got a pretty eerie vibe

                                                          • Jade G
                                                            Jade G  2 months back

                                                            Amanda Bynes is that you?

                                                            • Untimely Avengest
                                                              Untimely Avengest  2 months back

                                                              than lets murder the lake (pump the water out)

                                                              • Road Runner1988
                                                                Road Runner1988  2 months back

                                                                Womens name was cinnamon 😆

                                                                • love child 69
                                                                  love child 69  2 months back

                                                                  Great job ladies sticking up for the lake!! Well done!!!

                                                                  • Jessie
                                                                    Jessie  2 months back

                                                                    3:38 I thought those were Crocs hahahah

                                                                    • Nathan Fiant
                                                                      Nathan Fiant  2 months back

                                                                      This is a decent vid but I go to Erie all the time and it is simply not as bad as they are saying in this all the pictures and stuff are from the worst of it and you are forgetting that Erie is the shallowest of all the Great Lake so that also makes it the most futile Great Lake so algae blooms happen all the time and 95 percent of algae blooms are actually great for the environment it helps out the fish a lot be feeding them and because of that the bird numbers increase

                                                                      • Ethan Rodriguez
                                                                        Ethan Rodriguez  2 months back

                                                                        They should make one of those for the amazon

                                                                        • larrabeejl
                                                                          larrabeejl  2 months back

                                                                          One of the dumbest videos I've seen.

                                                                          • brian stone
                                                                            brian stone  2 months back

                                                                            Love the commentary and focus but not gonna let my young kids watch it.. the language wasn’t needed to get the point across. Clean it up a little.. it will make more impact

                                                                            • Douglas
                                                                              Douglas  2 months back

                                                                              Oh America, always over complicating things. The lake need rights because your useless government don't take care of the population well being, which should be their reason to exist. Population is being harmed not the river.

                                                                              • railbaron1
                                                                                railbaron1  2 months back

                                                                                Who's rights have more sway Nature or the Corporations. If things keep going the way they are now, It will the Corporations Ever Time.

                                                                                • Nichael
                                                                                  Nichael  2 months back

                                                                                  if it has rights, can it be arrested? *quick dump drugs in it and get a lake thrown in jail*

                                                                                  • Natalie Hodge
                                                                                    Natalie Hodge  2 months back

                                                                                    In new zealand chicken farming became illegal they have to be free ranged. Also I live in whanganui.

                                                                                  • movax20h
                                                                                    movax20h  2 months back

                                                                                    Just a silly way to say some stuff is environmentally protected. Silly title and silly bill.

                                                                                    • frozenfortune studio
                                                                                      frozenfortune studio  2 months back

                                                                                      Property? Gone.
                                                                                      Water? Algae.
                                                                                      Vacation? Nope.
                                                                                      Hotel? Trivago.

                                                                                      • I Eat Plastic
                                                                                        I Eat Plastic  2 months back

                                                                                        Aye I am in Michigan 🦋

                                                                                        • derpy mustard
                                                                                          derpy mustard  3 months back

                                                                                          (for everyone else) A cow eats an acre of grass.(for Americans) a cow eats Nearly a FoOtBaLl fiElD of grass.

                                                                                          • fabio sunspot
                                                                                            fabio sunspot  3 months back

                                                                                            There's too many people in the world and feeding us all is too much for this small planet.

                                                                                            • Arttective
                                                                                              Arttective  3 months back

                                                                                              Need to implement this to save the Ganges