Secondary literature regarding the environmental right have been compiled and divided into different categories below. Each category includes a link to a PDF document with a variety of books, articles, and opinion pieces that address the environmental right within the specified category. Links to resources have been provided where available; however, some resources will require a license in order to view the full text. The document lists will be updated as new resources are published. Thank you to Umair Saleem, S.J.D. Candidate at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, for compiling the initial lists.
New York State Constitutional Environmental Rights
New York’s Environmental Right: Constitution Bill of Rights, Article I, Section 19
Prior to the adoption of New York’s Environmental Right, scholars, practitioners, and commentators authored numerous articles evaluating the potential value and meaning of a constitutional environmental right in New York. Since the adoption of the Environmental Right in 2021, analysis continues to be conducted, now including discussion of court decisions under the Environmental Right. These references are specific to New York’s Environmental Right.
Other New York Constitutional Environmental Rights
The Environmental Right in Article I, Section 19, builds on preexisting environmental protections enshrined in Article XIV, Conservation, of the New York State Constitution. The effective interpretation and enforcement of what are commonly referred to as the Forever Wild provisions in Article XIV section 1, providing that “the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands,” can guide implementation of the new Environmental Right. This section compiles references pertaining to the understanding and implementation of Article XIV.
Other State Constitutional Environmental Rights
Many states include environmental provisions in their constitutions and two other state constitutions, those of Pennsylvania and Montana, contain self-executing environmental rights provisions – true “green amendments” – like the New York Environmental Right. The experience of other states implementing constitutional environmental rights provisions may prove instructive as New York works to define the contours of its new constitutional language. References in this section pertain to the implementation of constitutional environmental rights provisions in other states and to state environmental constitutionalism generally.
Environmental Rights in Other Jurisdictions
Common Law Jurisdictions
Environmental Rights have been recognized by courts in jurisdictions outside of the U.S., including those that have accepted the common law, and “due process of law” as established in the Magna Carta, and have enacted a framework of environmental law comparable to those in the U.S., have an environmental right recognized in their constitution, and have an independent judiciary. In these common law countries with judicial systems comparable to the U.S., their holdings may be useful in determining how to construe environmental rights.
The United Nations General Assembly recognized the Human Right to the Environment in July of 2022, by passing Resolution 76/300. The U.S. voted in favor of this Resolution. The U.S. accepts human rights as universal and fundamental (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights & International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights). The US and many states have human rights commissions to apply and ensure that human rights are observed. Most nations have established a right to the environment. These references may be useful in construing how the right to the environment should be applied in New York State.
International references on the right to environment can be divided into two categories. The first, discusses the right to environment as a human right in international law; arguing that a major concern of international law has always been the recognition of the right to life and health. Environmental degradation is a threat to human life. The second, discusses the right to environment in the context of the right recognized in national or provincial constitutions, often known as “environmental constitutionalism.” Authors argue that after the Stockholm Declaration, a movement to recognize the right to environment in coinstitutions and national legislations started across the globe. In both categories, authors consistently divide the right into two components, substantive and procedural. Substantive refers to the right to life, dignity, and health; while procedural refers to the right to access environmental information, the right to participate in environmental decisionmaking, and the right to judicial remedy in environmental matters.
Right to Clean Air, Water, and Health
References included in this section address specific elements of the environmental right, namely the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment. Jurisdictions that have enshrined the environmental right in their constitution or legislation, including New York, often specify these elements as representative of that right.