Despite having a well-developed system of environmental laws that has provided important protections to our water, air and communities while at the same time improving public health, supporting good jobs and solid economic values, New Jersey communities across our state continue to be unfairly harmed by environmental degradation
And while New Jersey’s natural resources have been calculated to provide on the order of $20 billion a year of economic value in the form of natural goods (such as food or products used for pharmaceuticals) and services (the flood storage or waste assimilation) they continue to be at severe risk.
Two Thirds of the state’s public water systems are contaminated with some form of Perfluorinated chemicals, a known carcinogen. Families in 11 of New Jersey’s 21 counties, which have received an F rating from the American Lung Association, suffer from asthma, cancer and other respiratory and cardiac disease caused by air pollution such as smog. New Jersey has 114 Superfund sites and an additional 10,000 sites confirmed by the state to suffer from toxic contamination, including in and around residential communities, impacting community health and property values. Pollution and degradation is impacting every aspect of our lives.
Given that we all depend upon clean water, clean air & a healthy environment to support and sustain our healthy lives and our healthy economy, it is right and appropriate that they should be protected with the same legal strength that we protect the other political, civil, property and human rights we hold dear.
And so, we, the undersigned support the passage of SCR134/ACR85 which will Amend Article I of the New Jersey State Constitution by adding a new paragraph 24 to 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.