Attorney files lawsuit to grant rights to Colorado River

Meg Hilling
September 26, 2017 06:43 PM

FARMINGTON, N.M. -- Should rivers have rights? One Denver-based lawyer believes so, and he is taking the State of Colorado and its governor to court over the matter.


He wants to have the Colorado River granted rights.

"Recent legal cases by the U.S. Supreme Court really recognize the personhood of corporations. But nature, upon which corporations depend to make profits, has no rights," said the attorney for the Colorado River, Jason Flores-Williams. "So what this is really about is equally the playing field."

This lawsuit is the first of its kind in the United States.  Other countries such as India, New Zealand and Ecuador have had similar lawsuits for rivers that have won rights.

"We are just trying to say the river has standing, so that images and injuries to the river can be brought into U.S. courts," Flores-Williams said. 

What do people think about this lawsuit? There is a large mix of opinions on social media as to whether or not this is something that should happen, and also whether or not this is something that could succeed in court. 

"What they'll probably do is probably file a motion to dismiss it because it is a new form a law, and then we'll respond to that. But what I'm hoping is that this starts a legal conversation that ends up in having new forms of rights created," Flores-Williams said.

Potentially, the Animas River and Rio Grande could follow in filing similar suits.

"We are demanding more of the river than actually exists. And so we needed to do something to protect it, because the river is an environmental system upon which humanity depends," Flores-Williams said.


Meg Hilling

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