NJ Bill Would Establish Constitutional Right To Clean Air And Water

Nov 30, 2017

Lawmakers and environmental leaders discuss the proposed amendment.

Some New Jersey lawmakers are proposing legislation to give residents the constitutional right to a healthy environment.

Assemblyman Tim Eustace says the constitutional amendment would require government officials to ensure that any action on development protects the environment.

“With the climate in Washington we have to make sure New Jersey protects itself. We have more Superfund sites than any state in the country. As the EPA is dismantled, we need to protect ourselves.”

Maya van Rossum with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network says passage of the constitutional amendment would give the right to drink clean water and breathe clean air the highest level of protection under New Jersey law.

“If state government in its decision making, in its passage of legislation, or its implementation of regulations oversteps and allows activities or creates activities or supports activities that takes from people their rights to a healthy environment, then they’ve violated the constitution. And then you can have a legal challenge.”

Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin says the measure would require a cost-benefit analysis for new projects to ensure the environment is protected.

It’s not clear how much support the proposal has in the legislature or when it might be considered.