For Immediate Release: July 27, 2021
Fall Ballot Measure Would Give New Yorkers a Right to Clean Air and Water
Leaders from the State Legislature, Labor, Business, Good Government Groups, the Environmental Movement, and Impacted Communities Join Forces to Support Amendment’s Passage
Voters can find out more information at OurAirOurWaterNY.org
Albany, NY – Today a wide-ranging and diverse group of New Yorkers announced the launch of a “Vote Yes for Clean Air and Water” campaign that will push for passage of a ballot measure giving New Yorkers a right to clean air and water. If approved by voters this November, the measure will amend Article 1 of the State Constitution by adding: “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.” By adding ‘Environmental Rights’ to the State Constitution, voters will give all New Yorkers the same fundamental protections for clean air and water that are currently provided to free speech, freedom of religion, due process, and property.
A website, OurAirOurWaterNY.org, as well as social media channels (Twitter & Instagram & Facebook) were also announced as part of the campaign effort.
A recent Siena poll found that 80% of New Yorkers support adding such an amendment to the State Constitution. Passing this amendment would make New York just the third state in the U.S. to recognize protecting environmental rights as an inalienable right.
Peter M. Iwanowicz, Executive Director, Environmental Advocates NY said, “As New Yorkers, we recognize that clean air to breathe and clean water to drink are fundamental to a healthy life. And this November, we have an historic opportunity to protect our families’ health now and in the future by voting to amend our State Constitution. I encourage every New Yorker to vote YES for the right to clean air and clean water.”
Mario Cilento , President of the New York State AFL-CIO said, “All New Yorkers deserve access to clean drinking water, clean air, and a healthy environment. That is why we are strongly encouraging union members across the state to approve this constitutional amendment in November. This amendment will not only protect our environment by promoting investment in our water infrastructure and new energy technologies, but it will also create solid middle-class jobs in the process.”
Robert Jackson, Senator, 31st District said, “As a staunch advocate for environmental justice representing a majority-minority and working-class district that has struggled with access to clean water for decades, the launch of the Vote Yes for Clean Air and Water Campaign is important to me. As the water protectors at Standing Rock reminded us, “Water Is Life,” and it’s why I sponsored the Clean Air and Water Constitutional Amendment during the last Legislative session. And now, I look forward to growing our coalition across New York State to ensure all New Yorkers know of the opportunity to vote for environmental rights this fall. In November, we will all have the opportunity to vote to add these powerful 15 words to the Constitution of the state of New York: Each person shall have a right to clean air and water and a healthful environment. We will finally have safeguards requiring the government to consider the environment and our relationship to Earth in its decision making.”
Steve Englebright, Member of Assembly, 4th Assembly District said, “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.”
Eddie Bautista, Executive Director, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance said, “It shouldn’t matter where you live or work in order to have clean air and water that won’t make you sick—except it does. As New Yorkers, we should have a constitutional right to clean air and clean water—except we don’t. Until we vote for this amendment, the law won’t recognize this environmental right we all have. I urge all New Yorkers to vote YES on for this amendment.”
Tamsin Hollo, Steering Committee, Newburgh Clean Water Project said, “For decades, Newburgh, like so many other environmental justice communities have been used as a dumping ground for industrial toxins. Communities like ours— mostly lower income, BIPOC communities are in a constant battle, literally, for our lives. These fifteen words really could change the destiny of our next generations. I’m so excited for this opportunity to create a more equitable future — a future in which a person’s health isn’t dependent on the income or the color of their skin. For communities like mine, this may be the most important vote of our lives.”
Jennifer Wilson, Deputy Director, League of Women Voters of New York State said, “The League of Women Voters of New York State is proud to support the Vote Yes for Clean Air and Water Campaign. The League has long supported policies that ensure a clean and healthy environment for all New Yorkers, regardless of their socioeconomic status. This amendment will ensure our government and New York State businesses seriously consider potential negative environmental impact when passing new legislation or allowing for economic development.”
Duane Peterson, Co-founder SunCommon said, “We started SunCommon on the belief that everyone has the right to a healthy environment and brighter future – and that renewable energy is where that starts. SunCommon proudly supports the Environmental Rights Amendment to embed this belief in the state’s Constitution. We encourage all New Yorkers to join us in voting YES on this Environmental Rights Amendment.”
Cathy Pedler, Director of Advocacy, Adirondack Mountain Club said, “The Adirondack Park was first established to protect watersheds and maintain clean drinking water for New York citizens. Today, we have an opportunity to honor that legacy by investing in clean water and air to ensure that future generations have access to these vital resources. After a century of working to protect places like the Adirondacks, we are excited to support the Vote Yes for Clean Air and Water ballot initiative and the great benefits it will have for New York’s people, communities, and wildlands and waters.”
Maya van Rossum, Founder of the National Green Amendments For The Generations movement and the Delaware Riverkeeper said, “New Yorkers are the beneficiaries of some of the most beautiful and valued natural resources in our nation. But in some parts of the state people are being forced to drink contaminated water and breathe polluted air, and are suffering from environmental degradation impacting their health and safety. Instilling a constitutional right to a clean and healthy environment into the state’s Bill of Rights will ensure the most powerful legal tool available, Article 1 of its Constitution, is available to protect New York’s still clean environments, ensure solutions for the pollution and degradation harming New York communities, and provides a mechanism to end environmental racism and ensure true environmental justice across the state. Adding this proposed Amendment will also put New York at the forefront of a growing national movement to secure the highest constitutional protection of environmental rights, making New York the third state in the nation to honor the environmental rights of all its people.”