Democrats in West Virginia’s House of Delegates Monday proposed an amendment to the state constitution’s Bill of Rights that would specify a clean environment is a constitutional right.
Thirty-two Democratic Delegates cosponsored an Environmental Rights Amendment. House Joint Resolution 25 states that access to clean air and pure water is the right of all West Virginians.
The amendment is modeled after a paragraph that’s been in the Pennsylvania Constitution for decades.
Lawmakers sponsoring the amendment argue a healthy environment is critical to the state’s economy.
"The best way to diversify our state’s economy is to create jobs that also protect the environment," Delegate Evan Hansen (D-Monongalia), lead sponsor of the resolution, stated in a press release. "We can grow our population and our industrial base while keeping the water we drink and the air we breathe clean."
In a release, the lawmakers highlight the state’s growing tourism industry and Charleston’s water crisis in 2014, which led to closure of many small businesses, and migration of a portion of the population.
If the resolution passes the state House and Senate, the amendment would be placed on the November 2020 General Election ballot for voters to decide.