State lawmakers on Tuesday called for the final approval a constitutional amendment that is meant to guarantee New Yorkers the right to a clean environment.
Voters are set to consider addding the amendment, a longtime goal of the environmental movement in New York, to the state's constitution this November, along with several other proposed additions.
The campaign for the passage of the amendment is being conducted by conservation groups, including Environmental Advocates NY, who along with several lawmakers from the Rochester area pushed for the final passage.
"Access to clean air, water and a healthy environment should be available to all New Yorkers -- regardless of one's zip code," said Sen. Jeremy Cooney. "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."
The amendment is seen as more than symbolic by potentially helping address climate change as well as communities of color who are seen as disproportionately affected by pollution.
“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," said Assemblyman Desmond Meeks. "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."