New York’s Environmental Right Repository

 Article I section 19

[Environmental rights] §19. Environmental rights. Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment. (Added by vote of the people November 2, 2021.)

History of the Amendment

In November 2021, 70% of New Yorkers voted to enshrine environmental rights in the Bill of Rights of the New York State Constitution. These rights augment the commitments already set forth in Article XIV, the Conservation provisions of the Constitution, which have provided great protection for New York’s cherished forest preserve.

The Pace New York Environmental Rights Repository provides a resource to advocates, litigators, courts and scholars seeking to interpret, apply, and understand Article I section 19. It houses documents relating to amendment’s legislative history; briefs and decisions in cases implicating the Article I, section 19; materials shedding light on the public context in which the amendment was adopted; and relevant legal scholarship.


Legislative History

A collection of documents, including bill text and sponsor memos, generated by the Senate and Assembly during the passage of the legislation forming the basis for the addition of the New York Environmental Right to the November 2021 ballot. Materials, such as sponsor memos, floor transcripts, and voting rolls, as well as letters in support and opposition to the Amendment from New York interest groups are also provided.  


A compilation of cases and claims raising the New York Environmental Right in legal proceedings in New York, including state and federal court cases and administrative proceedings.

Public Context – COMING SOON

When in interpreting constitutional amendments, New York courts consider what voters had in mind when they went to the polls and contemporary events that provide context to understand the cause or necessity for the amendment’s adoption.

Secondary Literature

Scholarly literature on the New York Environmental Right, state constitutional environmental rights, and environmental rights in other contexts, including international agreements and human rights instruments.