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The Common Agenda

Priority Action 5

Promote an Amendment to the Constitution to Establish and Ensure the Right to a Healthy Environment and Accountability for Environmental Injustices

This action calls for the establishment and/or recognition in the United States of the right to a clean and healthy environment, and the civic duty to protect it. The constitutions of some states in this country and of many countries around the world affirm rights to healthy environments or freedom from environmental conditions that undermine health. This action calls for the exploration and promotion of constitutional amendments or other actions at the state and federal levels, as well as legislative and associated judicial enforcement to eliminate racial and socioeconomic disparities in exposure to dangerous and unhealthy environmental conditions. Specific actions to promote rights to a healthy environment and accountability for environmental justice are:

Specific actions to promote a constitutional amendment and accountability for environmental justice are:

  • examining language and experience of other countries whose constitutions include a right to a healthy environment;
  • convening conversations among community leaders, scholars, elected representatives, and health and environment experts to discuss and craft language for state-level Constitutional Amendment for a Healthy Environment, and to explore the possibility of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution;
  • strengthening compliance and enforcement of environmental justice objectives at the federal level by codifying into law Executive Order 12898 “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations & Low-Income Populations” to ensure that discriminatory agency decisions and actions are addressed, and to provide clear leadership to the states;
  • supporting healthcare and family support services for those suffering disproportionately from the impacts of environmental exposures.