August 25, 2019 | 77° F

EDITORIAL: Green Amendment protects future of NJ

We must pass state amendment to claim our right to clean air, water

The era of indifference, of procrastination, of dense denial and soothing silence is coming to a close. We now find ourselves at the border of consequences, entering the era in which we reach the point of no return. The State Senate has proposed to amend our constitution to “recognize and protect an individual’s rights to clean air and water, and a healthy environment as inalienable human rights deserving of the highest constitutional and legal protection.”

As it stands, “New Jersey is 1 of 15 states that has no constitutional provision dedicated to environmental issues,” according to For the Generations. It will soon be up to the citizens of New Jersey to decide whether our state’s constitution will give hope to future generations or condemn them to an unlivable future. The future world depends on the arc of the moral universe bending in the direction of environmental justice and on the people of America to listen to the terrified calls of the world and act. 

We, the residents of New Jersey, will have the opportunity to solidify — as settled law — our individual right to breathe unpolluted air and drink water not poisoned by our neglect and apathy to the vitiation of our environment. Moving forward, our future will be prioritized in societal development and government action. Our state will be obligated to act not as a facilitator of or silent bystander to our destruction, but rather to act with the focus of preventing pollution and environmental deprivation.

“The proposed Green Amendment will require government to prioritize environmental protection when issuing permits, advancing energy creation, approving development, as well as crafting and implementing legislation and regulations,” according to NJ Advance Media. Our state government must be required to evaluate development projects and permit requests based on their environmental consequences and content. We can no longer allow for government and society to be simply responsive to further pollution. “The misplaced focus of current state and federal laws on issuing permits that allow pollution and environmental degradation puts the focus on management rather than prevention."

With a White House drenched in climate change denial and led by a hostile leader who panders to the interests of the fossil fuel industry, appoints climate change deniers and rolls back environmental standards, the states of this nation bear the burden of humanity’s survival. We cannot afford to wait for the federal government to take action.

Latching on to the past will prevent the modernizing and progression of society today. With America’s archaic infrastructure, we will be forced to invest and build such that our nation’s foundation can embolden and reinforce growth. The growth must be in a Green Economy that rationally responds to the need to preserve the world. The proposed constitutional change would ensure that all developments moving forward promote this growth.

Economic development and job growth results from a devotion to renewable energy and enactment of this Green Amendment. “Clean energy jobs outnumber all fossil fuel jobs by over 2.5 to 1, and they exceed all jobs in coal and gas by 5 to 1,” according to the Sierra Club. Also, environmentally conscious development projects are sold more quickly and for more money than traditional developments.

The Garden State has been the dumping ground for hazardous waste. New Jersey has more places under the federal Superfund program than any other state. A superfund site is a location that has been contaminated with hazardous substances and pollutants cause by mismanagement and neglect in disposal. The State Department of Environmental Protection lists more than 10,000 active sites with confirmed contamination. We are a state of pollution. We must be a state of progress. 

Up to this point, our laws have been designed to accommodate the pollution of industries rather than the health and welfare of the public. The Green Amendment will ensure that our right to clean air and water is protected from ignorant and regressive leadership. To prioritize green growth, predicated in environmental protection, is to prioritize those living today and those not yet born. 


The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 151st editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff. 

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