Advocates from the Finger Lakes Region Urge a YES Vote on Environmental Rights Amendment 

For Immediate Release: October 12, 2021

Proposal 2 would give every New Yorker a right to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment 

Ithaca, NY – Today, advocates and elected leaders from the Finger Lakes Region rallied on the Ithaca Commons to urge support for a constitutional amendment that would give all New Yorkers a right to clean air and water (Proposal 2). Appearing on this fall’s general election ballot, the measure would amend Article 1 of the State Constitution by adding: “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.”

Because no one should get sick because of their zip code, the Environmental Rights amendment will help make sure all New Yorkers have clean air and water. The amendment will also:

  • Help New York’s economy thrive by keeping people healthy and lowering health care costs for businesses and families
  • Require that government officials consider the environment in decision making
  • Protect communities of color that have faced higher levels of air and water pollution for decades

Passing this amendment would make New York just the third state in the U.S. to recognize protecting environmental rights as an inalienable right.

More information on the campaign to pass Environmental Rights in New York can be found at

“This effort was launched in response to a question posed frequently by communities all over New York who are dealing with the effects of pollution—don’t we have a right to breathe air or drink water that won’t make us sick or kill us? Morally, the answer is clearly YES. But, under New York law, the answer is…NOT YET. On election day we change that by going to the polls, voting YES on Proposal 2, and giving every New Yorker the right to clean air and water.” – Peter Iwanowicz, Executive Director of Environmental Advocates NY and leader in the ‘Vote YES for Clean Air and Water’ coalition 

“On Election Day this November, voters in New York will have the opportunity to flip over their ballots and vote to enshrine in our state’s constitution the right of each person to clean air, clean water and a healthful environment. This is a unique opportunity for all New Yorkers to hold our government accountable to preserve these rights for all through legislation, regulations and implementation. Prop 2 is about both environmental sustainability and justice and it is past time we solidified our commitment in our state’s founding document.” – Anna Kelles, Member of the New York State Assembly, 125th District 

“I was born and raised in a country where having clean water was a luxury and air compliance standards were non-existent. For many, having access to clean running water was not an option. In these United States, where we are overflowing with resources and technology, access to clean water and clean air should not be a luxury but a guaranteed human right for all.” – Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Chairwoman of the Tompkins County Legislature 

“Every person should have the right to clean air and clean water. It is time we amend the New York State Constitution to guarantee this important right is protected. This is one of many actions still to be taken to correct historical inequities and to do right by those disproportionately affected by water and air pollution.” – Luis Aguirre-Torres, Director of Sustainability, City of Ithaca 

“Every New Yorker has a right to clean air, water and a healthy environment. Here in the Finger Lakes, we’re surrounded by literally trillions of gallons of fresh water. At a time of growing water contamination threats and water scarcity, we cannot afford to take that water for granted. We’re fighting against Harmful Algal Blooms, thermal pollution, factory farming, and more.  Our clean air is also under threat from gas-fired power plants starting up to mine Bitcoin. This November, we have a historic opportunity to vote to protect our rights to a clean environment. Vote Yes on the Environmental Rights Amendment!” – Yvonne Taylor, Co-Founder and Vice President, Gas Free Seneca, Seneca Lake Guardian 

“As a mother of three adult children, there’s nothing that concerns me more than their health and safety. My community is host to numerous environmental assaults on children’s health: schools built on toxic waste dumps, gas pipelines, gas storage, gas compressor stations, radioactive waste in our landfill, and until recently, fracking brine spread on our roads. Poor communities and communities of color are the ones most beleaguered with these kinds of threats – that’s a travesty. All New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable, should be guaranteed a healthy environment.” – Lisa Marshall, Mothers Out Front New York 

“Voting YES on Proposal 2 will give every New Yorker, no matter where they live, a right to clean air and clean water. This will not only help keep people from getting sick, but will build community around the shared values of health and well-being. Future generations will look back at what we do this election day with thanks if this measure passes.”  – Christa Núñez, Founder and Director, The Learning Farm   

“Access to clean air and water is not a privilege–it is a fundamental human right.  However, our current laws do not treat it as such, and for far too long low-income and minority communities have been subjected to pollution and chemicals that threaten their wellbeing.  All people, not just a select few, deserve to live in a healthy environment, and the New York State Constitution must reflect that commitment.” – Siobhan Hull, Sunrise Ithaca Hub Coordinator