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Environmental Advocates Want Voters To Vote Yes On Prop Two

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Scott Willis
/
WAER News
Advocates stand in Onondaga Lake Park behind the Salt Museum.

Environmental groups are urging Central New York voters to flip over their ballots and vote YES on proposal number two. It would enshrine the right to clean air and water in the state’s constitution.

“These should not be luxury items, these are basic building blocks of life, and determine to health outcomes for entire communities for generations," said Lindsay Speer with the Alliance for a Green Economy based in Syracuse. "Even the smallest child understands this instinctively.”

She spoke on the shores of a lake that endured decades of abuse.

“Onondaga Lake is an example of what may have been different in New York had had this right clear air and clear water constitution from beginning. My great grandfather called what Allied Chemical did to this lake a crime. But they were powerless to stop it. They did not have any standing. No one did until environmental laws were enacted in the 60s and 70s. But even today, communities struggle to protect themselves from these new sources of pollution.”

Speer said the amendment is about environmental justice and ensuring a fair transition to renewable energy.

Kate Kurera is an environmental lawyer and deputy director of Environmental Advocates of New York. She said having the right to clean air and water enshrined in the constitution will change up front decision making.

“We have thousands of laws on the books that regulate the environment that deal with pollution. And if you think about it, those laws are really designed to limit how much pollution enters the environment, and then clean it up. We don’t really talk about preventing pollution, and thinking about it in a precautionary way. So it’s actually for me, as a lawyer, I get really excited about this kind of paradigm shift about how we would regulate the environment.”

Kurera said Montana and neighboring Pennsylvania have added similar rights to clean air and water to their constitutions without any problems, including additional litigation or harm to businesses. The proposal is one of many on the back of the ballot. Early voting starts tomorrow in Onondaga County at six locations through Halloween. More information is at onvote.net.