Issue Area

Green Amendment

Overview

Green Amendments (often called “environmental rights amendments”) are part of a state’s constitution. Likening rights of religious expression and speech to the right to clean air, water, these amendments serve to emphasize environmental health and safety as being part of our basic civil liberties. After lawyer and environmentalist Maya van Rossum helped land a legal victory against fracking around the Delaware River watershed, the Green Amendment movement was born, capitalizing on this long-ignored section in Pennsylvania’s bill of rights. Support for the constitutional right to a clean environment is gaining momentum in other states as well, as legislators are beginning to recognize the power in including such basic, but strong legal language in a state constitution’s bill of rights.

NCEL Point of Contact
Kate Burgess

Conservation Coordinator

Contact
Key Facts

Green Amendments establish a constitutional mandate recognizing a healthy environment as an inherent, indefeasible, generational legal right of all citizens.

Passing a Green Amendment in every state across the nation can serve as an invaluable tool for communities facing disproportionate environmental burdens.

Green Amendments provide a backstop that can be used by community, public, government and even business interests to provide a check on government authority that overreaches and fails to protect environmental rights.

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Resources

NCEL Resources

Online Resources

The Green Amendment - Book by Maya Van Rossum

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The Green Amendment as an Environmental Justice Tool

Fact sheet about how the green amendment can be an environmental justice tool.

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The Montana Constitution and the Right to a Clean Environment

View a law review article on Montana’s Green Amendment.

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Webinar: Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment in Practice

This webinar covers how Pennsylvania’s Green Amendment has been applied in several case studies.

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New Jersey's Model Resolution

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