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2021 environment review: NYs Environmental Rights Amendment
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2021 environment review: NYs Environmental Rights Amendment

2021 environment in review: NYs environmental rights amendment


After moving through the state Legislature, voters approved a ballot proposal adding the environmental rights amendment to New York’s Constitution. (Vaughn Golden/WSKG)

WSKG looks back at some of most pressing environmental issues over the past 12 months and considers how they may evolve in 2022.

VESTAL, NY (WSKG). Just over 70% of voters voted for a ballot proposal during 2021’s general election. It included language to the New York Constitution that would guarantee clean air and water and a healthy environment.

Peter Iwanowicz is the Executive Director of Environmental Advocates NY. He has lobbied for this amendment for many years. In an interview with WSKG after the election, Iwanowicz stated that he didn’t expect to see the amendment lead to an onslaught in lawsuits. It was suggestedBy the opponents of the ballot proposal.

He thinks the new amendment will be considered in regulatory proceedings at the Department of Environmental Conservation and local planning boards, as well as other decision making processes.

“The unequivocal answer from me is yes, absolutely. This is now an important part of the decision making process. I mean citizen groups should be writing to the commissioner after Jan. 1 saying ‘oh by the way, part of what you need to consider on these permit proposals now is whether you saying yes as a government official would then violate somebody’s right to clean air and clean water, Iwanowicz said.

He observed that the vote was equally distributed among all the state’s residents, suggesting a unusually high level of support for any issue.

“We’ve become so deeply polarizing and tribal about our issues and it’s just really nice that people come around to something like the value of enshrining a legal right for people to have access to being able to enjoy clean water and clean air, Iwanowicz said.

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