The right to clean air and water proposal passed in NYS, so what will it mean?


ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Having the right to clean air, clean water and a healthful environment in the state of New York was the second proposal in the statewide ballot that was approved by 70% of its voters. When this is written into the constitution on January 1st of 2022 this will guarantee every person in New York State the right to clean air and clean water. But exactly does that mean?

I spoke to Peter Iwanowicz, Executive Director of the Albany based organization of Environmental Advocates in NY where he says…

“Government decision makings will be more about preventing pollution and the crises that we’ve seen with drinking water and dirty air year after year after year, so we’ll be moving away from a regulatory and a legal scheme that talks about controlling pollution to one that leads us into preventing it…”

Citizens can sit in on discussions, go to city council, and even the governor’s office to ask their questions on developmental and land projects, or other environmental concerns that would potentially be a part of the state’s budget going forward. 

“The Rochester Water Authority is going to have to look at their operations and they’re gonna have to look at aging infrastructure how they treat sewage at the treatment plants… and now the citizens have this right to clean water and it’s gonna require them to be responsive to that.”   

Those who were not advocates for the proposal say they are worried about the ambiguity and lack of clarity of it all, and on the potential implications it could have to family business and state agencies that work to regulate us. So, the question now becomes, how will local leaders and businesses respond? But it all boils down to the fact that for those that want to advocate for a cleaner and healthful environment, now they can. 

“The citizens voted, and we decided to add this language to our constitution, so it is done and that’s really affirming I think for the people that voted for this question. “

~Meteorologist Christine Gregory

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