New Jersey's Green Amendment For The Generations
On October 15, 2018, a bipartisan supermajority of the Senate Environment Committee today passed SCR134, a proposal to amend the New Jersey Constitution’s Declaration of Rights to include environmental rights. The bill, proposed by Senator Linda Greenstein (D-14) as prime and Senator Kip Bateman (R-16) as co-prime, would amend Article 1 of the state constitution to recognize that “Every person has a right to a clean and healthy environment….”, that the State has a duty to serve as trustee of the state’s natural resources, and must conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all people.
November 30, 2017, New Jersey Assemblyman Tim Eustace, joined by Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, Assemblywoman Pinkin and Assemblywoman Sumpter, announced new legislation that, if passed, would provide the people of New Jersey with a constitutional right to a healthy environment. The proposed provision identifies the State as trustee of public natural resources including the water, air, flora, fauna and the climate, and ensures an obligation by government officials to conserve and maintain these resources for the benefit of present and future generations. Including the proposed language in the New Jersey ensures that the right to clean water, clean air and a healthy environment will be protected as firmly as other essential rights are protected, like the right to free speech, freedom of religion and private property rights.
As proposed the New Jersey environmental rights amendment would read as follows:
(a) Every person has a right to a clean and healthy environment, including pure water, clean air, and ecologically healthy habitats, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic qualities of the environment. The State shall not infringe upon these rights, by action or inaction.
(b) The State’s public natural resources, among them its waters, air, flora, fauna, climate, and public lands, are the common property of all the people, including both present and future generations. The State shall serve as trustee of these resources, and shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all people.
(c) This paragraph and the rights stated herein are (1) self-executing, and (2) shall be in addition to any rights conferred by the public trust doctrine or common law.
The two prime sponsors of the bill are Assemblyman Eustace and Assemblywoman Pinkin. But we believe every member of the New Jersey legislature should support protecting environmental rights as an inalienable human right. Send your letter today to your assembly member and senator and urge them to be vocal and active in support.
Shaping Up for a Big Fight in NJ on Question of Right to a Clean Environment, NJ Spotlight, 10/17/2018
Bill Would Put Right to Clean Environment on Ballot With New Constitutional Amendment, Press of Atlantic City, 11/30/2017
New Jersey Bill Would Establish Constitutional Right to Clean Air and Water, WBGO 88.3, 11/30/2017
Several State Legislators Want Constitutional Right Clean Air, Water. Politico 11/30/2017
Will New Jersey Make a Healthy Environment an Inalienable Right? NJ Spotlight 12/1/2017