Sunday, January 31, 2021

Green amendment: Yay or Nay?

Boreas River headwaters. Photo by Phil Brown 9/5/16.Have you been following the “Green Amendment” process?

A proposed state constitutional amendment would make clean air and water — two things plentiful in much of the Adirondacks — a right for all New Yorkers.

From Explorer reporter Gwen Craig’s Jan. 12 article:

“The proposed bill would add to the state bill of rights, giving citizens the “right to clean air and water and a healthful environment.” …The bill passed the state Senate and the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee. It will now go to the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee.

The full Assembly will have to vote on the amendment for the constitutional change. Then it would appear before voters on a November ballot.”

Curious to hear your thoughts. If this moves forward, would you vote yay or nay and why?

Boreas River headwaters. Photo by Phil Brown/Almanack archive

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Melissa is a journalist with experience as a reporter and editor with the Burlington Free Press, Ithaca Journal and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. She worked as a communications specialist for the Adirondack North Country Association and is currently digital editor for Adirondack Explorer, overseeing both the Explorer's website and its community forum the Adirondack Almanack. She enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoors activities, and spending time with her husband, their twin daughters, and rescue animals -- two dogs and two cats.

15 Responses

  1. Bob Meyer says:

    Even though there are specifics in the bill that are disruptive of traditional industrial and lifestyle norms, we need to be bold and begin to act towards these goals; living more harmoniously with our planet. Failure to do so will have dire, even life threatening consequences for our descendants!

  2. Joan Grabe says:

    If I could vote I would vote Aye but I have realistic doubts that it would ever be implemented. Here in Florida a few years ago the voters approved a proposition by over 70% ( in a heavily Republican voting state) which would use the fees that were generated by sales of properties and businesses to fund an environmental program to restore the Everglades and other environmentally dangered areas in Florida. All the environmental groups celebrated but the State Assembly said that only it had the power to allocate state funds and as a result almost none of the projects were funded and the problems that led to the proposition go unaddressed to this day. It is heartwarming to see legislators actually legislate but let’s not break out the champagne just quite yet. Let’s not give up the fight either.

  3. Pete says:

    Clean air and water and a healthful environment is an admirable goal. “The Government” has been working towards that for a long time. Laws have been passed. Programs and agencies have been developed. There are all kinds of environmental restrictions, emissions limits, etc. But putting it in to the state constitution as a “right” is absurd. How would it be enforced? How would people who claim they don’t have a healthful environment be given one? Move them out of the city and give them all free housing somewhere in the boonies? There is way too much potential for abuse.

  4. Beau Bushor says:

    The easiest question we’ll answer today.
    YAY! Is our answer. ❤️?
    Croghan, NY

  5. Alan Cole says:

    I will definitely vote yes in this November’s election.

    My State Senator, Rachel May, gave a short (1:43) but persuasive talk in favor of the amendment. Listen:

  6. Vanessa says:

    Generally speaking: yay. Like the committee chair, I too share sympathy with small towns that are afraid of being sued – that’s never fun. But it sounds like at least the one politician is proposing a funding source to help said small towns with that type of issue.

    Amendments are often quite legally vague. Hec, the law itself is legally vague or you wouldn’t need people to interpret it professionally. Imagine that NY was in the situation like is the case for Flint, Michigan. Some govt official may be worried about lawsuits, which is their job, btw – but the people downstream in Flint continue to suffer serious health issues from their poisoned water. If a problem already exists, being worried about your chances of getting sued over it probably isn’t the best look morally or practically.

    Such an amendment would give more legal power to enforce something that we all already want but that some of us don’t get due to present flaws in policy.

    I too am skeptical on how it will be enforced for traditionally underserved groups, but I think it’s a legally strong way to attempt to address. More power to everyone working on it.

    • Thomas Paine says:

      Vote nay. The bill is dangerously vague. Allowing even more government control on public and private lands. To much is left up to the interpretation of corrupt Albany bureaucratic power brokers and the Environmental lobby.

      • Bob Meyer says:

        You mean the Enviornmental lobby that cares about our long term health and the health of our descendants and the earth itself?
        Crawl back into your 20th century and fossil fuel dead end economy and regressive nonsense.

        • JohnL says:

          “giving citizens the “right to clean air and water and a healthful environment.” What about sunshine, fair winds, and unicorns? Why aren’t they included? Asking for a friend.

          • Balian the Cat says:

            ‘Cmon JohnL – Are you so entrenched in opposing ideologies that “clean air and water and a healthful environment” are bad things now?

            • Boreas says:


              If JohnL prefers the alternative, so be it. Personally, I think it is a good idea to strive for a better environment, especially because we are the only species actively ruining it.

              • Pete says:

                No one thinks striving for a better environment is a bad thing. The problem is that a constitutional amendment stating a ‘right’ to something that can easily be interpreted to restrict people and businesses and/or require goods and services that must be provided is very problematic. It opens the door to lots of rules, regulations, lawsuits, bureaucracy, spending of taxpayer money, etc.

            • JohnL says:

              Bob told TP to ‘crawl back into the 20th century fossil fuel dead end economy thinking’ . My friend would say that Bob’s the one with the early 20th century thinking. In the past 50-75 years, this country has done more to clean up our air and water than any country in the world. If you were paying attention, you’d know that, among a host of other things, GE is no longer dumping PCB’s into the Hudson and we now have clean coal in use almost everywhere. Like it or not, fossil fuels are what give us our standard of living and until you quit ‘promising’ that renewable energy is going to replace it, you’re stuck with it. My friend says thanks for listening.

  7. Joan Grabe says:

    The PCBs that GE is no longer dumping can no longer join the PCBs that are still lurking in the Hudson River south of the GE plant. Despite protracted clean up efforts, vigorously opposed by GE initially and for years, they were were not able to eradicate the polluting PCBs. Clean coal is on it’s way out due to environmental standards, reduced by the previous administration and restored by the current administration, and will be replaced by cleaner and cheaper to produce natural gas generating plants. Which is just a less polluting option than coal but still a fossil fuel. The states and federal government have made our waterways and air cleaner by instituting automobile fuel standards, waste dumping standards, and other measures not exactly greeted by hosannas of joy by some in the business communities and parts of the general population. Here in the 21st century the most universal goal must be the preservation of this fragile planet we all inhabit so that the 22nd century will still be habitable for our great grandchildren.

    • JohnL says:

      Thanks Joan, for helping to make my friends’ arguments. 50 years ago (or so) we were enlightened about the consequences of our polluting actions, and since then we’ve been constantly looking for cleaner and better ways to do things. It’s an ongoing thing now. Eventually, fossil fuels will probably be a thing of the past, but until then, we still have our horrible automobiles to get to work, go to soccer games, supermarkets, and thousands of other places and things that make up our incredible standard of living. Thanks again.

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