Franklin Kury figure in PA conservation

Franklin Kury

October 15, 1936 -

Serving in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for three terms (1966–1972), Franklin Kury was a leader there in the enactment of environmental laws, such as the Clean Streams Act, that are seen as the culmination of the environmental revolution that marked the end of the exploitation of the state’s natural resources by the coal, steel and railroad industries. He was the author and lead advocate for the environmental amendment to the state constitution that declares a right to a clean environment by the people and makes the state government the trustee of the public natural resources.

In 1972 he was elected to the first of two terms in the Pennsylvania State Senate, where he became a leader in government reform. He chaired the special committee that reformed the process for Senate confirmation of gubernatorial nominations and the committee that modernized the Public Utility Commission and created a consumer advocate. Kury also led a six-year struggle that resulted in the enactment of the state’s flood plain and storm water management laws. He retired voluntarily from the Senate in 1980 and turned to full-time law practice.

In 2011, Mr. Kury’s Clean Politics, Clean Streams: A Legislative Autobiography was published by the Lehigh University Press.

An April 3, 2014 profile in the Harrisburg Patriot News ( highlighted the story behind the 1969 creation of the environmental amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution and its application by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in December 2013 to the rights of a Pennsylvania township to regulate marcellus shale gas drilling. Mr. Kury’s story is the story of conservation leadership in the Goddard tradition – bipartisan, forward-thinking and patient. As a result, he was the winner of the 2012 Cliff Jones Keystone Legacy Award from the Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation.

A panel discussion featuring Mr. Kury, along with

  • Cindy Dunn – Secretary, PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources
  • State Sen. Franklin Kury
  • Rafiyqa Muhammad – Harrisburg Environmental Advisory Council, PA DEP Environmental Justice Advisory Board
  • Emma Olney – Governor’s Youth Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation and Wildlife Leadership Academy Ambassador
  • Sofia Portilla – Climate Justice Youth Advocate with CASA (a working class, Latino, and immigrants’ rights organization)

was hosted by WITF, StateImpact Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation on May 18, 2021, the 50th anniversary of passage of the Environmental Rights Amendment.