Stetson Professors Co-author ‘Right to a Clean Environment’ Amendment to Florida Constitution

Clay Henderson, Stetson University
Clay Henderson

The “right to a clean and healthy environment” proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution, drafted by Stetson University professors Clay Henderson and Lance Long, is one of only six out of 2,000 public proposed amendments advanced for further consideration by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission.

The proposed amendment will be considered by the Florida CRC Judiciary Committee in Tallahassee on Nov. 28.

The “right to a clean and healthy environment” proposal or P23, sponsored by Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, would amend the Florida Constitution to provide that “the natural resources of the state are the legacy of present and future generations” and “every person has a right to a clean and healthful environment, including clean air and water.”

Lance Long

Henderson, executive director of Stetson University’s Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience, proposed the right to a clean environment at a public hearing in Jacksonville earlier this year.

“Floridians have demonstrated time and again that protection of the environment is a fundamental value that should rise to a constitutional level of protection,” Henderson said.

“The proposed amendment provides Florida citizens with a constitutionally enforceable right to a clean and healthful environment,” said Long. “It does not create an independent right to bring legal action, but it does set a standard applicable to any action by a private or public party.”

Long teaches legal research and writing, and environmental law and environmental advocacy at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, where he also serves as faculty adviser to the Go Green Committee on campus.

Dawn appears along Canaveral National Seashore, south of New Smyrna Beach. Photo courtesy of Stetson Professor Robert Sitler, Ph.D., and his Florida Aquatic Gems project.

The proposal was drafted by a small group of environmental lawyers including Henderson and Long. Stetson law student Kai Su helped prepare the proposed amendment by researching similar provisions in other states. The proposed amendment was presented by Executive Director of Conservation Trust for Florida Traci Deen.

The Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience at Stetson University in DeLand focuses on water and environmental research in order to offer policy options to protect natural resources in Central Florida and beyond, combining student and faculty research across all university colleges – in partnership with other institutions and community stakeholders.

-Brandi Palmer
Stetson College of Law