Gardeners: Vote for your right to clean water, clean air, healthful environment

photos representing clean water, healthful environment and clean air
Photos by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

In our upcoming election, you can vote on whether you want to add this simple sentence to the New York State Bill of Rights:

“Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.”

If Proposal #2 is passed in our upcoming election, it would put these rights in front of every decision the government makes, according to Vote YES for Clean Air and Water.

Decision-makers would be obligated to minimize pollution and environmental harm. For example, before a legislative body passes a law or a government agency issues a permit, it will have to consider whether doing that would violate a person’s right to clean air or water.

And in states where environmental rights are in place, the public benefits from enhanced legal standing in enforcement of environmental laws.

According to a Siena poll of registered voters in June, 80 percent were in favor of the proposal.

What’s kind of amazing is that during a time of deep political polarization, this proposal made it onto the ballot with some bipartisan support! (See more here at BallotPedia.)

You can get more in-depth information about this proposal, including arguments from people opposing the proposal, at this BallotPedia page.

Our general election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 2, with early voting from Saturday, Oct. 23 to Sunday, Oct. 31.

Proposal #2 is one of five proposals on the back of the ballot. Remember to flip over your ballot to see the proposals.

Why I published this article

When I write on some gardening topics, such as climate change, people sometimes leave comments saying that I should stay out of politics and stick to gardening. Since I am encouraging you to vote in a certain way, which might seem like I’m taking a political view, I feel I should explain why I wrote this article.

Politics is one thing, but important issues and legislation are different. When I hear “politics,” I think of people shouting sound bites at one another and trying to score points for a particular party. Just hearing it wears me out.

But when it comes to important issues and legislation, we all have to participate. Legislation is one way we change our government and our society. If we avoid learning about legislation, or worse, avoid voting altogether, how can we be participate in our democracy?

I believe we should all do whatever we can to make the world—or at least our little part of the world—a better place. This proposal could help me, my family, my neighbors and our environment. So I wrote this article. It’s one small thing I can do to make my small part of the world a better place.

If you disagree with this proposal, please feel free to leave a comment explaining why you disagree.

If you agree, you can leave a comment, too.

Please use your real name and be polite!

12 Comments on “Gardeners: Vote for your right to clean water, clean air, healthful environment

  1. Hi Caroline, thank you for your thoughtful reply. Yes, I agree the wording is ambiguous, but the wording of the federal first amendment is vague, too. We have had many discussions–and lawsuits–in the last 200 years over whether something is allowed under that amendment. I think it would happen over this state amendment, too. I believe the intention is to give more power to people who are harmed, or could be harmed, by pollution. I appreciate you sharing your views!

  2. The terms clean and healthful are appealing but are also extremely vague. Who gets to define what is acceptable and attainable? How do we clearly quantify clean? This is another attempt from the government to grab property rights, change zoning, and deter or chase away businesses. It will lead to lawsuits affecting dairies, orchards, wineries, school districts, small businesses, and commercial and industrial construction. NY residents deserve a clearly written proposal, not an open ended ‘green’ agenda. I vote no.

  3. Hi Mickey, thanks for your response. I agree that everyone should have these rights. I think that putting them in our state’s Bill of Rights is important because it will help people whose rights are being infringed upon. Yes, it’s amibiguous. Of course, the right to free speech is ambiguous, too. For a couple hundred years people have been invoking that right and arguing over what actions are covered by that right and which are not. I expect the same will happen with the right to clean air, clean water and a healthful environment. Thanks for helping our environment–congratulations on your gardens that help monarchs and bees!

  4. Every American everywhere should have this right. We shouldn’t have to vote for it. Not to be political but this is the stepping stone to Biden’s green new deal, which is NOT a good deal in the end. Not one official tells you what exactly they will do to make this happen, what businesses will be affected, taxed. It’s very ambiguous. Sadly this is political. I do my part though, planting trees and using native plant species in my gardens. Had quite a few monarchs and honey bees.

  5. Thanks for sharing this information. This is not a political thing; it is an environmental thing. BTW, the photo of the lake makes me think it’s going to spill all over my desk with the angle it’s on LOL

  6. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I’m so tired of “politics” getting in the way of intelligent policies that benefit all people.

  7. Clean air and clean water are not issues that should divide voters by party lines. Keep speaking out on issues like this.

  8. You did the right thing. We have to begin to be more aware of how each human being is effecting the environment; OUR environment that we are having an impact on now, but that we are going to pass on to our future gnerations!

  9. Good for you, speaking out about what you think is important and doing it as graciously as you have.

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