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A proposed constitutional amendment that attempts to establish that every person has a legal right to a clean environment could, in fact, block initiatives designed to improve the environment, such as offshore wind projects, NJBIA said Thursday.

NJBIA Deputy Chief Government Affairs Officer Ray Cantor, testifying in opposition to Senate Concurrent Resolution 43 (Greenstein, D-14; Zwicker, D-16) today in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee, said it could also lead to a surge in costly litigation and create uncertainty that would jeopardize financing for public infrastructure and private development projects.

“If this ‘green amendment’ becomes a constitutional provision, those who oppose could legally challenge whether an offshore wind project would pass a ‘pure water’ or ‘preservation of the natural, scenic, historic of esthetic qualities of the environment,’” Cantor said.

Cantor also warned the so-called “green amendment” essentially transfers policymaking power and important deliberations away from the Legislature and to the courts, with unknown implications.

“It is crafted on the premise that the Legislature cannot be trusted to protect the public and make the right decisions,” Cantor said in previous written testimony. “It seeks to go around the Legislature, and the Governor and Executive Branch as well, and allow any person to go to the courts to get the result they want.

“(With the legislative process) there is debate, there is compromise, there are hard choices. All sides are represented. Representative democracy works. Sometimes it is messy sausage making. Sometimes we don’t get what we want. But at the end of the day, we make progress. And if we don’t like the results, we have elections.”

The committee voted 3-1 with one absention to release SCR-43. If approved by the full Legislature, the proposed constitutional amendment would be put up for a statewide vote in the next general election for voters to approve or reject. If approved, it would become part of the Constitution on the March 1st next following the general election in which it was approved.