NJ Sierra Club Endorses NJ Green Amendment
The Sierra Club’s New Jersey Chapter supports the New Jersey Green Amendment. On March 13, the chapter passed a resolution to endorse a change to the NJ Constitution.
The proposed amendment states, in part, that:
Every person has a right to a clean and healthy environment, including pure water, clean air and soil 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.
The amendment would also require the State to preserve public natural resources and to prevent others from destroying or damaging public natural resources.
Richard Isaac, NJ Sierra Club Chapter Chair, said, “This amendment will provide one more tool for citizens to use to allow us to preserve and provide equal access to clean air, water and soil. It will also help us in our work to meet the looming climate change crisis. Lending our support to the campaign to pass the Green Amendment is a no-brainer.”
“This resolution from Sierra Club’s New Jersey Chapter sends a powerful message to the NJ Legislature to support and pass this amendment, allowing the people of NJ to make the ultimate decision of whether their right to a healthy environment should be constitutionally protected,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and founder of the organization Green Amendment For The Generations, which seeks to advance constitutional environmental rights nationally. “New Jersey is on the forefront of this national movement to constitutionally and equitably protect the environmental rights of all people.”
Green Amendments have been in place in Pennsylvania and Montana since the early 1970’s. The idea is gaining traction in other states including New Mexico, New York, West Virginia, Maryland and Hawai’i. These amendments give environmental rights a higher level of authority and permanence, and can be used to counteract anti-environmental legislation. Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment has been used twice, in 2013 and 2017: first, to ensure that communities had the right to bar hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” and later over how the state legislature was spending revenue derived from leasing state forestland for “fracking.”
The Green Amendment was originally introduced into the legislation in 2018 and the Sierra Club’s NJ Chapter supported it at that time. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network has been active in promoting the measure and helped to get it re-introduced in the 2020 legislative session. There are currently 42 sponsors of the Amendment Resolution in the NJ State Assembly and 12 sponsors in the State Senate. To pass, the resolution would require 48 votes in the Assembly, and 24 in the Senate. If passed, the amendment would be included as a referendum on the ballot for the next general election. A majority vote would add the amendment to the New Jersey Constitution.
Voters who are interested can find out more about the NJ Senate (SCR 30) or Assembly (ACR 80) NJ Green Amendment Resolutions, at forthegenerations.org. To take action, voters can write or call their state representatives in the NJ Legislature.