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Press Release: Rochester State Legislators Lunsford, Brouk, Cooney, Bronson, Meeks and Clark Stand with Environmental Advocates

October 5, 2021

Today, Rochester area elected leaders and advocates gathered at the Cobbs Hill Reservoir to show support for a constitutional amendment that would give all New Yorkers a right to clean air and water

Proposal 2 would give New Yorkers a right to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment

Press Contact: Iris Bieri, Chief of Staff, Assemblymember Lunsford, 585-223-9130

Photo Credit: Assemblymember Harry Bronson

(Rochester) Today, Rochester area elected leaders and advocates gathered at the Cobbs Hill Reservoir to show support for a constitutional amendment that would give all New Yorkers a right to clean air and water (Proposal 2). Already approved overwhelmingly by the state Legislature, this measure would amend Article 1 of the State Constitution by adding: “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.” 
Because no one should get sick because of their zip code, the Environmental Rights amendment will help make sure all New Yorkers have clean air and water. The amendment will also:

Passing this amendment would make New York just the third state in the U.S. to recognize protecting environmental rights as an inalienable right.

More information on the campaign to pass Environmental Rights in New York can be found at https://www.ourairourwaterny.​org/

Assemblymember Jen Lunsford: “There are many environmental laws in New York, but they each work to address particular issues in a complex regulatory system. A constitutional amendment that enshrines in our founding document a fundamental right to clean air and water helps address these issues at the systemic level. It provides opportunities for communities to seek redress for the harms visited upon them by their government. And for our black and brown brothers and sisters, those living in environmental justice zones, who too often suffer the brunt of these harms, this amendment opens a door too long closed and gives voice to those left too long voiceless.”

Assemblymember Harry Bronson: “As our planet continues to warm, forest fires burn, plastics dumped into our oceans, and natural disasters worsen, we are witnessing an increase in the negative impacts of climate change. That is why I was proud to vote for Proposal 2 and call on all New Yorkers to join me and my colleagues as we fight for environmental justice for the families of our state. Your vote for the passage of Proposal 2 will require the state to take action to reverse the environmental harms done to low-income communities, primarily black, brown and immigrant, and to protect our natural world and resources. The passage of this proposal is a huge step forward in the fight for environmental justice for all people and recognizes the unique challenges faced by our most marginalized communities.”

Assemblymember Sarah Clark: "When it comes to the environment and climate change, there is no more time to waste. This begins with ensuring that everyone regardless of zip code has access to clean air and clean water. We must pass this amendment and guarantee all policy decisions will be centered around what is best for our environment, our people, and future generations."

Assemblymember Demond Meeks: “Every New Yorker has the right to safe air and clean water. Environmental justice is racial justice. When we neglect the environmental protections of our communities, we compromise their ability to be self-sufficient and promote the inequity we see on a daily basis. Polluted water leads to expensive and life-long health conditions. Children suffer from higher asthma rates and compromised immune systems, impairing their development both physically and mentally. These incredibly damaging, life-long ailments disproportionally affect communities of color and those with a lower socio-economic status. Our government must provide these essential protections for every community.”

Senator Samra Brouk: As New Yorkers, it is our obligation to strengthen our commitment to environmental justice in the development and implementation of environmental laws, regulations and policies. For too long, low income and predominantly Black and brown communities have been exposed to excess pollution and health hazards and they have historically had fewer resources to access healthy lifestyle choices. Without a course correction, these marginalized communities will bear the brunt of the negative effects of climate change. This constitutional amendment would lay the groundwork for decision making that ensures all New Yorkers will benefit from environment protections, and require the government to consider environmental impact in a more serious way before making decisions.

Senator Jeremy Cooney: "Access to clean air, water, and a healthy environment should be available to all New Yorkers---regardless of one's zip code. It is critical to make sure those in our city most impacted by harmful environmental conditions are prioritized and can benefit from sustainable resources. That is why I am proud to support this legislation, which will help all Rochesterians."

Peter Iwanowicz, Executive Director of Environmental Advocates NY and leader in the ‘Vote YES for Clean Air and Water’ coalition: “With less than a month before early voting starts in New York, now is the time for Central New Yorkers to get excited about the “Vote YES for Clean Air and Water” campaign. Every New Yorker should have a right to breathe clean air and drink clean water—and we will if this amendment passes this fall.”

Bridget Mousaw, New York Youth Climate Leaders: “As the youth of New York State, we see the clear environmental destruction happening daily across the country. We hope for the passing of the Environmental Rights Amendment, to assure that those who are causing the climate crisis are held accountable, and to assist in securing a livable world for us and future generations."

Allen Blair, Rochester Citizen Climate Lobby: "Providing clean air and water for every New Yorker is a moral imperative. Kudos to all who are working so hard to enshrine this right into our state constitution!"