Albany, NY – Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) and Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) passed legislation (S.2072/A.2064) in the New York State Senate and Assembly today to protect every New Yorker’s environmental rights.
The legislation known as the Green Amendment is a constitutional amendment to the New York State Constitution that would guarantee, “each person shall have the right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.” The legislation would encourage sound green decision-making and help prevent harmful environmental actions.
“It’s a historic day because this bill was introduced in 2017 and while it passed in the Assembly, it did not make it out of committee in the Senate. Now under the Leadership of Senator Stewart-Cousins, lawmakers are putting our environment and environmental rights first,” said Senator David Carlucci. “We are now closer than ever before at bringing our constitution into the 21st century and saying your right to clean air, water, and a healthful is just as important as one’s right to worship freely or assemble.”
“This is something that should be a part of being a citizen of this great state, to know that you can grow up, raise a family, and pass on to the next generation a clean and healthful environment. It is simple. This proposal is based on the premise that these rights are fundamental, and that should be reflected in the state’s Constitution. I wish to thank Senator Carlucci for his work in getting this important bill passed,” said Assemblyman Steve Englebright who chairs the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee.
“The New York State Constitution expresses our highest ideals and greatest principles. The fact that today, a right to clean air and water is absent from our Constitution is a glaring omission. Senator Carlucci should be congratulated for his work in helping to pass a Constitutional amendment that will correct this oversight and guarantee New Yorkers the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment,” said Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York.
The Green Amendment has the support of 90 advocate groups who all signed on to a letter backing the legislation.
Currently, forty-three other states have some form of expression of environmental values in their Constitutions; but only Montana and Pennsylvania have recognized protecting environmental rights as an inalienable right, putting environmental rights on par with other political and civil liberties.
In order for the New York State Constitution to be amended, this bill must be passed again in next year’s legislative session, and then it must pass a statewide voter referendum.