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Campaign Launches for NY State Environmental Amendment

Hoosick Falls resident Ashlynn Sagendorf has a PFOA level of 31. The national average is 2. (EANY/EffectiveNY)
Hoosick Falls resident Ashlynn Sagendorf has a PFOA level of 31. The national average is 2. (EANY/EffectiveNY)
December 30, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. - New Yorkers have a right to clean water, clean air and a safe climate, according to the message of a new advertising campaign launched this week. The groups Environmental Advocates of New York and Effective NY have joined forces to push for amending the state constitution to include a New York State Environmental Bill of Rights.

Travis Proulx, communications director for Environmental Advocates, said the campaign was inspired by the children of Hoosick Falls, where drinking water has been contaminated with PFOA, a toxic chemical used to make non-stick coatings for cooking utensils.

"They came to us and said, 'Hey, we really want to help. We want to help educate the public on what's going on, and we want to make a difference so this doesn't happen to other people'," Proulx said.

A constitutional amendment would have to pass in two consecutive sessions of the state Legislature, then be approved by voters in a statewide ballot.

The campaign is being launched with two short videos, featuring children in Hoosick Falls delivering the message in their own words.

"I think one of the highest priorities of New York state should be to have a healthy environment," said Mikayla Baker, 14. "It's ridiculous that we should even have to ask for the right of clean water and clean air."

The videos direct viewers to a website, NYCleanWater.org, where they can sign a petition supporting the effort.

According to Proulx, legislators from both sides of the aisle in the state Assembly and Senate have expressed an interest in the proposal.

"We expect a constitutional-amendment bill will be introduced within the next couple of months," he said, "and that this is going to be an issue in the 2017 legislative session."

Proulx called the amendment a powerful tool that would help New Yorkers compel their government to act in a crisis and preserve their rights to a healthy environment.

More information is online at eany.org.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY