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 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. Since its original proposal there has been significant forward progress.
Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin is now joined by Assemblyman John McKeon as prime sponsors of ACR 85. Joining them in sponsoring the bill is Assemblyman Daniel Benson, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, and Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson.
On the Senate side we have bi-partisan support. Senator Linda Greenstein (D-14) has led the charge and been joined by Senator Kip Bateman (R-16) to advance SCR134. On October 15, 2018, a Bipartisan supermajority of the Senate Environment Committee passed SCR134.
For The Generations has been working in partnership with our principle, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, as well as Clean Water Action, NJ Highlands Coalition, NJ Sierra, Environment NJ, the American Littoral Society, and a team of committed attorneys from the state to lead the effort.
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.
It is important we continue to build strong support for this proposal. 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.
Eager to help advance passage of New Jersey’s Green Amendment? Great! Because we need your help. Here are five things you can do.
PRESS REGARDING THE ANNOUNCEMENT
- 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
- New Jersey Green Amendment Petition
- Model Resolution Supporting Green Amendment to the NJ State Constitution
- SCR134 Organizational Sign On Letter (2018-10-15)
- Press Release on SCR134 Passing NJ Senate Energy and Environment Committee (2018-10-15)
- NJ Constitutional Amendment Fact Sheet
- Press Release on New Jersey Green Amendment Announcement (2017-11-30)
- Proposed Environmental Rights Amendment Bill Language