Our Constitution must grant all New Yorkers a private right to clean and healthful air and water and the ability to seek redress through the courts when this right is violated, to assure the protection of our other national resources for the benefit of present and future generations.For example, the language proposed by Harvard Law School states:
Present and future generations of citizens of the State have the right to an ecologically healthy environment. This right includes but is not limited to: the enjoyment of clean air, pure water, and scenic lands; freedom from unwanted exposure to toxic chemicals and other contaminants; and a secure climate…. Individuals and groups who believe their environmental right has been violated may seek redress in state courts against alleged violators, both public and private.
The state of Hawaii also has strong environmental provisions in their constitution:
Each person has the right to a clean and healthful environment, as defined by laws relating to environmental quality, including control of pollution and conservation, protection and enhancement of natural resources. Any person may enforce this right against any party, public or private, through appropriate legal proceedings…
These are just two examples New York can adapt. Recently, Bill 6279 was submitted to the New York Assembly to add the following words to the New York State Constitution: “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.”
Incredibly, this amendment passed the Assembly but not the Senate, killing it until next year. That an environmental amendment can’t even get through the legislature is further proof (if any is needed) that the state needs a constitutional convention.