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New Jersey - Constitutional Environmental Rights

November 30, 2017,  New Jersey Assemblyman Tim Eustace, joined by Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper announced new legislation that, if passed, would provide the people of New Jersey with a constitutional right to a healthy environment. The proposed provision identifies the State as trustee of public natural resources including the water, air, flora, fauna and the climate, and ensures an obligation by government officials to conserve and maintain these resources for the benefit of present and future generations.  Including the proposed language in the New Jersey ensures that the right to clean water, clean air and a healthy environment will be protected as firmly as other essential rights are protected, like the right to free speech, freedom of religion and private property rights.

As proposed the New Jersey environmental rights amendment would read as follows:

(a)  Every person has a right to a clean and healthy environment, including pure water, clean air, 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.

(b)  The State’s public natural resources, among them its waters, air, flora, fauna, climate, and public lands, are the common property of all the people, including both present and future generations.  The State shall serve as trustee of these resources, and shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all people.

(c)  This paragraph and the rights stated herein are (1) self-executing, and (2) shall be in addition to any rights conferred by the public trust doctrine or common law. 


Press regarding the announcement:

Bill Would Put Right to Clean Environment on Ballot With New Constitutional Amendment, Press of Atlantic City, 11/30/2017

New Jersey Bill Would Establish Constitutional Right to Clean Air and Water, WBGO 88.3, 11/30/2017

Several State Legislators Want Constitutional Right Clean Air, Water.  Politico 11/30/2017

Will New Jersey Make a Healthy Environment an Inalienable Right? NJ Spotlight 12/1/2017

Supporting Documents