Start Spreading The News: New Yorkers Vote For The Right to A Clean Environment
I strongly believe that every single citizen of our great nation, most certainly including those here in the fragile yet ever so beautiful State of Florida, have an innate constitutional right to clean air and water. It just seems logical and obvious to me that that should be everyone’s natural right. In fact, those beliefs were central to my landmark litigation Reynolds v. Florida.
For these reasons, I am thrilled to see that nearly 61% of all voters in the State of New York added the right of its citizens to enjoy a clean environment to their state constitution during Tuesday’s elections. America’s politics might be polarizing these days but learning that votes in favor of the New York constitutional amendment far exceeded those against it in 51 of New York’s 62 counties is simply wonderful news.
“New Yorkers have spoken very clearly on making clean air and clean water a legal right. In these otherwise polarizing times, a healthy environment, breathing clear air and drinking clean water are values that bring people together.”
Environmental Advocates NY
Passing this amendment has made New York just the third state in the U.S. to formally recognize protecting citizens environmental rights as an inalienable right within its constitution, and the hope is that others will soon follow. Pennsylvania, for example, has had all sorts of historic struggles with pollution from mining, oil and gas extraction operations, and has had such a law on its books since the early 1970’s. Sadly, the Pennsylvania law faced decades of litigation challenging it before that state’s Supreme Court finally brought the matter to an end in 2013 by ruling in the environment’s (and voters’) favor. Let us hope that the polluters don’t spend nearly as much time tying up the promise that the new New York Amendment holds in the courts and that voters all over America will seek to pass similar legislation (much less vote for public officials that support such common sense concepts).
Supporters of the New York amendment believe that enshrining a constitutional right to clean air and water will require the government to consider environmental effects early on in policy making and give greater weight to people who sue when government fails to do so. Given the importance of our environment here in Florida, wouldn’t it be “nice” if our Governor and other elected state leaders were to suggest and support a ballot initiative like the one that just passed in New York?
Now that would be a ray of Florida Sunshine for sure.