Advocates to NY Voters: Vote YES on Environmental Rights Amendment 

For Immediate Release: October 29, 2021

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

Peter Iwanowicz, Executive Director of Environmental Advocates NYAlbany – Today, advocates and elected officials rallied at the State Capitol 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.

Newsday, the New York Daily News, the Albany Times Union, and the Buffalo News have all editorialized in support of a YES vote for proposal 2.

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

“New Yorkers deserve to have the constitutional right to clean air, water and a healthy natural environment. This is why it is so important that New Yorkers vote yes on the Green Amendment so that this and future generations can have a healthy environment to live and work,” said Neil Breslin, Senator 44th District.

“The right to clean air, water and a healthful environment is something that should be a part of being a citizen of this great state. New Yorker’s will be able to grow up, raise a family, and pass on to the next generation a safe, clean and healthy environment. These rights are fundamental, and that should be reflected in the state’s Constitution,” said Steve Englebright, Member of Assembly, 4th District.

‘”I support constitutional amendment proposal 2 that would establish the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment because we know how important all of those things are to our overall health and establishing the right as fundamental helps protect our children, our families, and our future. As a representative of environmental justice areas who has worked diligently to protect the communities that I serve and as a legislator who has sponsored legislation that was enacted into law to protect the rights of those harmed in Hoosick Falls by contaminated water, I understand the importance of being proactive to ensure that we provide a safe and healthy environment for our communities,” said John T. McDonald III, Member of Assembly, 108th District.

 “This fall, New Yorkers will have the opportunity to vote to amend the New York State Constitution on 5 different proposals. Proposal 2 would add the right for all New Yorkers to have clean air and water to New York State’s original Bills of Rights, which contains many of our most sacred civil liberties, but nowhere is there a right to a clean and healthy environment. Two other states, Montana and Pennsylvania, already have a ‘Green Amendment’ on the books and New York would become the third. Talk to your friends and neighbors about the importance of voting on Proposal 2!” said Patricia Fahy, Member of Assembly, 109th District.

“Access to clean water to drink and fresh air to breathe should not be luxuries reserved for the wealthy and the fortunate. Regardless of where you live, a healthy environment should be a fundamental right of every New Yorker, and that type of peace of mind should be offered to every parent with growing children. That has been my fight since I was first elected County Executive, but now that fight rests in the hands of voters. I’m encouraging everyone to go to the polls and vote in favor of Proposal 2 to add these rights to our Constitution,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy.

“Voters in New York have a simple but profound choice to make—to vote yes and give every New Yorker a right to clean air and water; or reject that right and vote no. Before voting, ask yourself: do I want to breathe clean air and drink clean water? If the answer is yes, I urge you then vote YES on proposal 2, said, Peter Iwanowicz, Executive Director at Environmental Advocates NY and leader in the ‘Vote YES for Clean Air and Water’ coalition.

“The children and families of New York have a right to clean air, clean water and a healthy environment. This amendment to the state constitution assures that right will be a legal and enforceable right.  It is imperative that we secure the future for the young New Yorkers of today and the future of the New Yorkers yet to come. Passing this amendment November 2 will ensure a healthier environment for all New Yorkers from today and into the future,” said Elie Ward, Director of Policy for the New York State American Academy of Pediatrics

​​“Clean water, clean air and a healthful environment are basic human needs,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway.  “They should be basic human rights that are guaranteed by our government.  But even in the Adirondacks, where the constitution already protects public lands and waters as ‘forever wild,’ there is no guarantee that public health and public welfare are top priorities for state government. The Adirondack Council supports amending the Constitution to guarantee those rights to all New Yorkers.”

“Every day nurses see how polluted air and water make people sick. Adding a right to the State Constitution to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment will empower New Yorkers to stand up to those polluting our environment and will ultimately lead to better health for everyone. NYSNA urges every New Yorker who cares about their health and the health of their family to vote YES on proposal 2,” said NYSNA (New York State Nurses Association) President Nancy Hagans, RN.

“The right to clean air and clean water is fundamental. Incorporating it into our bill of rights will ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of geography or socio-economic status, can live safely by ensuring that projects do not cause pollution, negatively impact the health of citizens, or harm vital habitats,” said Michael Barrett, ADK Executive Director.

“Access to safe drinking water and clean air are fundamental necessities for all people. Voter approval of this constitutional amendment will create legal safeguards so the air and water we need are protected now and for generations. The Open Space Institute is proud to be part of the coalition urging its passage for a more environmentally secure future for all New Yorkers,” said Kim Elliman, President and CEO of the Open Space Institute.

“New Yorkers have the chance to make history by voting to amend our state constitution to give every resident the right to clean water, clean air, and a healthy environment. This is an important opportunity to keep New York healthy and lower healthcare costs for families and businesses,” said Joan Leary Matthews, Interim Senior Director for Water Initiatives at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)”

“We cannot take clean water and air for granted. For too long, our most vulnerable communities have been harmed by high levels of air pollution and water contamination. We need the environmental rights amendment to keep every community across New York safe and healthy. The New York League of Conservation Voters is calling for voters to say yes to Proposition 2 to establish constitutional environmental rights for all New Yorkers,” said Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters.

“Every New Yorker, regardless of race, zip code, or socioeconomic status, deserves clean air and water – no one should get sick because of where they live or work,” said Liz Moran, New York Policy Advocate for Earthjustice. “Granting New Yorkers the constitutional right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment is common sense and would give communities a new tool in the toolbox to protect themselves from harmful pollution. Earthjustice urges voters to support proposition 2 on their ballots this November.”

“The failure to protect the rights of all the people of New York to clean water and air, and a healthful environment has allowed environmental rights to be too often ignored or made subservient to the goals of industry and/or politicking.  New York is poised to remedy this historic and constitutional oversight and to become the third state in our nation to provide the highest constitutional recognition and protection to environmental rights.  With passage of this amendment New Yorkers will restore to themselves the power they need to secure true environmental justice for all communities of the state, to remedy historic environmental racism, and to ensure needed environmental protection statewide,” said Maya van Rossum, Founder of Green Amendments For The Generations dedicated to securing Bill of Rights protection for environmental rights nationwide, and has also served as the Delaware Riverkeeper for 27 years.