‘Clean and Healthful’ Constitutional Change Fails

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – A Republican plan to dilute the Montana Constitution’s guarantee of a “clean and healthful environment” to help industry won’t be going to the 2012 ballot.

The declaration in the Constitution’s inalienable rights has long been a sore point for those who say it gets in the way of energy and other development. But conservationists and others have hailed it as forward-thinking language that has helped preserve the state.

The failed Republican proposal would have asked voters to change the provision to instead guarantee a “clean, healthful, and economically productive environment” in an effort to help projects blocked by lawsuits.

Proposed constitutional changes need support from 100 of the Legislature’s 150 members. After 26 senators voted for the proposed change on Monday, the measure falls short with 89 total votes.

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