On Wednesday, May 12th, the Burlington County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to pass a resolution in support of a New Jersey Green Amendment, making Burlington one of the first to do this at the county level. The proposed amendment (ACR80/SCR30) would add constitutional environmental rights to the New Jersey state Constitution and would recognize and protect the rights to pure water, clean air, a stable climate and healthy environments for all people, including future generations.
Volunteer leaders from the nonprofit organization, Green Amendments For The Generations, worked to educate county officials and gain the necessary support to pass this resolution. The Board of Commissioners was moved to pass the resolution following a presentation at the TriCounty Sustainability Alliance by high school students Svanfridur Mur, Margaret Berei, and Sayuri Pfeiffer. The students are leaders of the NJ Student Sustainability Coalition (NJSSC), a group of high school and college students across the state and who have taken on the NJ Green Amendment as a key issue.
“It was very important to our entire Burlington County Board of County Commissioners that we were one of the first Counties in this area of the State to pass a resolution in support of the Green Amendment. Burlington County is known for our commitment to agriculture, sustainability, open space preservation and ensuring our natural resources continue for many generations to come. We believe that clean air, clean water and a healthy environment are fundamental rights owed to every citizen of New Jersey. I am hopeful that our neighboring counties and municipalities consider passing their own resolutions in support of this very important Amendment,” said Burlington County Commissioner Linda Hynes.
“This resolution from Burlington County sends a powerful message to the New Jersey Legislature that local government leaders representing their constituents believe that the rights of all people in the state to a clean and healthy environment should be constitutionally recognized and protected,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and founder of the organization Green Amendment For The Generations, which seeks to advance constitutional environmental rights nationally. “New Jersey could be on the forefront of this national movement to constitutionally and equitably protect the environmental rights of all people, but unfortunately the state legislature has not been giving this proposal the due attention or hearings it deserves. It’s time for the state legislators to take the next step, schedule hearings, allow the public to testify, and cast their vote on the record either for or against protecting the rights of all New Jerseyans to clean water and air.”
“Teamwork was a key element in this resolution. It started with Maya’s vision and the dedicated folks at Green Amendment for the Generations. They inspired me to reach out to my elected officials. Students from the NJSSC added their voices, and Commissioner Hynes along with her colleagues ensured the passage of this important resolution,” said Ila Vassallo, community member from Marlton, NJ and volunteer leader with Green Amendments For The Generations.
“For a lot of us young people working on the Green Amendment at NJSSC this resolution is a huge success. Working mostly in our spare time with teams of students volunteering in addition to school, extracurriculars, and jobs, and on an ask as big as a constitutional amendment, it can often feel discouraging. As coordinators of the campaign, Margaret and I have definitely felt like what we’re doing isn’t making the change we want it to. This resolution, spurred by our student presentation, disproves that and shows our team that yes, we are making tangible change, and that young people can help get this protection for our futures,” said Svanfridur Mura, a student from West Orange and Green Amendment Co-Coordinator of NJ Student Sustainability Coalition Essex County, Aberdeen Township, Cape May Pt, Borough of Bradley Beach, and several organizations have all passed similar resolutions in support.