Heroes of Hawk Mountain: Franklin Kury

Environmental champion authors new book

Posted on in Heroes of Hawk Mountain by Mary Linkevich, Director of Development

Franklin Kury
Photo by Harrisburg Patriot/PennLive

Hawk Mountain honors former board member and long-time friend Franklin Kury for his extraordinary contributions to conservation. Elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for three terms (1966-1972), he led the enactment of fundamental environmental laws.

50 years ago, Franklin drafted and championed an Environmental Rights Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, which was enacted on Earth Day 1970 and ratified by voters in 1971. Forward-looking states like Hawaii and Montana followed suit, enacting strong environmental protections in their own state constitutions. 

While we celebrate this important anniversary, today climate change has become the overriding threat to the environment of the planet, spurring Kury to author a book that provides a historical context to the environmental movement as well as a roadmap for the future.

In his new book The Constitutional Question to Save the Planet: The Peoples’ Right to a Healthy Environment, Franklin argues that climate change is an imminent threat to life in the United States and around the world.

“There are numerous proposals to stop it—from President Biden, Bill Gates, and others. But these proposals have a glaring omission—they fail to provide constitutional protection to the right to a healthy environment as a fundamental human right,” says Kury. 

Kury’s book calls for such an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, one that gives permanence to the right to a healthy environment and places on government the obligation to secure it.  

“What good are fundamental rights like freedom of speech and religion if people will suffocate from climate change?” he asks. Such an amendment as Kury outlines would give people the right to seek judicial enforcement of that right if and when the government fails to protect it.

Kury’s story humbly begins when Basse Beck, the manager of a local newspaper and radio station and staunch advocate for the environment, walks into Kury’s law office. He quickly finds himself in the world of politics where he is a driving force behind Pennsylvania’s environmental revolution. 

Recognizing that his story cannot be told in the isolation of Pennsylvania politics, Kury gives readers an appreciation for the various forces in American history that led up to his environmental victory. The story closes with a call for the federal government’s leadership to seek a national environmental rights amendment to the U.S. Constitution and a treaty to expand its reach to the international community.

Franklin in 1972 went on to serve the Pennsylvania Senate through 1980, and it was our great honor to have his wise council and leadership when he served on the board of Hawk Mountain, as well as the board of Pennsylvania Environmental Council. Now retired for more than a decade, Franklin continues to fight for the rights of all citizens of the United States, using his new book as platform to reach the people.

“Celebration alone of the first 50 years of Pennsylvania’s environmental amendment is not adequate for the circumstances we are in. We must apply the amendment going forward for the next 50 years and the immediate future too. We need a sense of urgency in confronting climate change.”

Buy Franklin Kury’s The Constitutional Question to Save the Planet: The Peoples’ Right to a Healthy Environment now.