Josie Taylor | December 20, 2021
Arizona state Sen. Juan Mendez was writing a bill to strengthen water protections in Arizona when he learned about a legal idea that he now believes could provide even stronger and broader protections for the environment.
The idea came from Maya van Rossum, a lawyer and environmental activist whose organization successfully brought down a pro-fracking law in 2013 using a seldom used “environmental rights amendment” in Pennsylvania’s constitution. The amendment is part of the state’s bill of rights and says the people have a right to clean air, pure water and the preservation of the environment.
Mendez now wants to amend Arizona’s constitution to recognize the right to a “clean and healthy” environment. The amendment is only three sentences, but would effectively put environmental rights on par with free speech, freedom of religion and gun rights in the state.
The right to a healthy environment is a concept some government bodies across the world have been considering recently.
Currently, New York, Pennsylvania and Montana have the environmental rights amendment.