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Groups seek NY constitutional right to clean air, water

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Environmental and public coverage teams in New York are calling for a state constitutional modification that may assure residents a right to clean air and water.

Environmental Advocates of New York and EffectiveNY are selling the proposed modification with on-line video advertisements Thursday that includes youngsters from Hoosick Falls, the place water wells have been contaminated by an industrial chemical.

“You shouldn’t have to fight for clean water,” says 15-year-old Mikayla Baker, a Hoosick Falls ninth-grader featured in one of many two movies.

The teams say a constitutional modification would give residents extra energy to maintain state lawmakers and regulators accountable for making certain a wholesome setting.

Six states have environmental rights provisions of their constitutions. A 1971 Environmental Rights Amendment to Pennsylvania’s structure was the idea for a state Supreme Court ruling in 2013 that stated municipalities have a right to zone towards shale fuel improvement. Drilling within the underground shale has resulted in public health and environmental considerations.

In Hoosick Falls, particular filters have been put in on private and non-private wells contaminated with the economic chemical PFOA that has been linked to most cancers and different sickness. Residents there have accused the administration of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of being too sluggish to launch an investigation and warn individuals after the contamination got here to mild in 2014.

At a state Senate listening to in August, Health Commissioner Howard Zucker stated the state adopted federal tips in addressing the difficulty.

“In 2016, we saw communities in New York struggling with clean drinking water and clean air,” Environmental Advocates government director Peter Iwanowicz stated. “What was missing was clear language in the state constitution giving people the right to drink water that won’t make them sick and breathe air that’s safe.”

State regulators additionally drew criticism this yr from group residents and environmental teams for his or her dealing with of air permits for oil terminals on the Port of Albany. As a end result, the Department of Environmental Conservation in September stated it’s going to require an in depth new evaluate of permits initially issued in 2012 that turned Albany into a serious hub for crude oil rail shipments from North Dakota.

“Constitutional protection means that even if a state agency or the Legislature does the wrong thing through regulation or statute, people have the ability to use our courts to get us to do the right thing,” stated Democratic state Sen. Liz Krueger, a possible sponsor of the modification when it is drafted.

Residents now have the right to convey lawsuits difficult environmental legal guidelines or laws, however a constitutional modification would give stronger weight to their arguments, Iwanowicz stated.

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