A push in Florida for a right to clean water
A group of Southwest Florida activists have launched an effort to get a new right added to the state constitution: the right to clean water.
- The amendment would allow lawsuits against state agencies for harm or threatened harm to lakes, rivers, wetlands and other types of water bodies.
Why it matters: The change would put into law that humans in the state have the right to clean drinking water, and if something threatens to pollute it, we can sue.
- The move is the latest in a series of efforts in Florida to legally protect natural resources.
State of play: To get on the 2024 ballot, the committee would need to submit nearly 892,000 valid petition signatures by Feb. 1, 2024, and receive approval of wording from the Florida Supreme Court.
- They're collecting signatures here and looking for volunteers to help with collection in all 67 counties.
What they're saying: "The system is failing us right now," said organizer Joseph Bonasia, a retired high school English teacher who moved to Cape Coral six years ago, per the Fort Myers News-Press.
- "We want to amend the state constitution to give every Floridian a fundamental right to clean and healthy waters … a law that can't be overturned [and] can't be messed with by the state Legislature."
The other side: Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, a Republican homebuilder from Spring Hill, filed a bill that would ban local governments from granting "any legal rights to a plant, an animal, a body of water, or any other part of the natural environment."
- He argues it would hurt business and the tax base.
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