ballot initiative #63:
right to a healthy environment
what does it mean?
what would it do?
what is the current law?
why do the proponents want to change the current system?
have initiatives like this been tried in Colorado before?
how could it impact Colorado's water community?
Initiative #63 is out for signature collection. It would amend the Colorado Constitution by adding a fundamental 'right to a healthy environment' to the Bill of Rights Article II.
The following FAQ's will provide insight into Initiative #63, how it works, and what impacts it might have on the water community.
Initiative #63 does not explicitly impose a public trust or common property rights that would conflict with Constitutional protections for water rights and other property rights.
If enacted, Initiative #63 would help ensure the protection of the sustainable conditions of a healthy environment by encouraging more litigation, causing expense and delays that could derail projects regardless of whether a lawsuit has merit. It would also provide incentives for increased regulation of new development, at both the local and state levels.
Initiative #63's assertion of a Constitutional 'right to a healthy environment' without a companion Public Trust Doctrine is unusual, and may be unique.
The initiative's language describes a 'healthy environment' as 'including healthy air, water, land, and ecological systems.' This suggests that it is only a partial list. In addition, if the protection of a healthy environment must be the 'highest priority' of state and local governments and their agencies, then more stringent state and local environmental regulation for the protection of anything that could be considered a part of the 'environment' is likely. For the water community, this could mean increased water regulation and greater restriction of industrial development and water use.