This annual survey of New York environmental legislation describes numerous new laws on single-use plastics, lead exposure, drinking water, fuel oil, climate resilience, solar energy, invasive species and other areas that were signed into law in 2021.

Constitutional Amendment

The most important development of the year was the approval by the voters on November 2, by a 70% to 30% margin, of an environmental rights amendment to the state Constitution. (This margin is especially notable since on the same day the voters rejected several other amendments that would have made it easier to vote.) The Constitution’s Bill of Rights now includes a provision that reads in full: “§19. Environmental rights. Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.” In the years to come the courts will no doubt be called upon to flesh out the meaning and applicability of this new right.

Bond Issue