Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez
SANTA FE — A Joint Resolution to amend the New Mexico Constitution in order to add environmental rights was pre-filed by Senators Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and Rep. Joanne Ferrary; the Senate version was pre-filed Jan. 5 with the House version anticipated shortly.
Sen. Harold Pope, Jr., Sen. Shannon Pinto, Rep. Tara Lujan, Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, Sen. Carrie Hamblen, Sen. Bill Soules, Sen. Jeff Steinborn and Rep. Debbie Sariñana are among others supporting this amendment.
The pre-filed resolution proposes amending the State Constitution Bill of Rights in order to recognize the rights of present and future generations to clean and healthy air, water, soil and environment; a stable climate; and self-sustaining ecosystems, and mandates these rights be protected equitably for all communities regardless of race, ethnicity, tribal membership status, socioeconomics, gender, or geography. The Joint Resolution also creates an enforceable trustee obligation on government officials to protect the State’s natural resources.
Sen. Sedillo Lopez, lead senate sponsor of the Joint Resolution states, “Clean air, land and water and equity in sharing the burdens of pollution should be the official policy of our beautiful, but environmentally fragile state. It’s time!”
Rep. Ferrary, leading the proposal in the House of Representatives explained, “Many groups representing different cultures, people of color and geographic areas of our great State, have come together to design and write this proposed Environmental Rights Constitutional Amendment. We feel this Resolution reflects the environmental concerns and protections that we as New Mexicans need for a healthy environment.”
If the Joint Resolution secures a majority vote of support in both the Senate and House of Representatives, it will be placed on the next general election ballot in 2023 for a vote by the people of the State.
The concept of constitutional environmental rights already exists in Pennsylvania, Montana and most recently, in 2021, in New York. Legislators in Washington, Hawaii, New Jersey, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, among other states, are also advancing proposals.
New Mexico Green Amendment 2023 Language reads as follows:
SECTION 1. It is proposed to amend Article 2 of the constitution of New Mexico by adding a new section to read:
A. The people of the state shall be entitled to clean and healthy air, water, soil and environment; a stable climate; and self-sustaining ecosystems, for the benefit of public health, safety and general welfare. The state shall protect these rights equitably for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, tribal membership status, socioeconomics, gender, or geography.
B. The state, counties and municipalities shall serve as trustee of the natural resources of New Mexico and shall conserve, protect and maintain these resources for the benefit of all the people, including present and future generations.
C. The provisions of this section are self-executing. Monetary damages shall not be awarded for a violation of this section. This section is enforceable against the state, counties and municipalities.
SECTION 2. It is proposed to amend Article 20 of the constitution of New Mexico by repealing Section 21.
Fact sheets, information and resources on the New Mexico Green Amendment movement can be found at www.NMGreenAmendment.org, information on what is happening in other states can be found at www.ForTheGenerations.org.