University of Wisconsin–Madison

Debate Over Environmental Rights and State Constitutional Convention

Type Policy Brief or Report
Year 2017
Level Other Boards and Agencies
State(s) New York
Policy Areas Democracy & Governance, Environment & Natural Resources
During the election on November 7, the voters in New York state will be presented with the ballot question, "Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?" If the referendum passes, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention will be elected in November 2018, and the Convention's proposed changes will appear on the ballot, most likely in November 2019. Many issues are under debate: ethics reform, reorganizing the judiciary, voting rights, and several more. The focus of this column is on environmental rights. The current Constitution has a "Forever Wild clause", adopted in 1894- which has helped preserve the wild areas of Adirondack and Catskill parks. It also has a Conservation Bill of Rights, declaring a state policy of protecting natural resources and scenic beauty, but it has been held to be unenforceable, and has been of little consequence. This column discusses these environmental rights and their implications within New York as well as across the country.

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