March 21, 2008
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
675 Mower Road
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania 17202
For Immediate Release
Nottingham and Barnstead, NH Join Growing List of Communities
Recognizing Rights of Nature
Nottingham NH passed The Nottingham Water Rights and Local Self –
Government Ordinance at Town Meeting on Saturday, March 15th. The
ordinance establishes strict liability for culpable corporations and
government entities that permit and facilitate the privatization and
corporatization of water within the town.
The ordinance also strips corporations of constitutional protections
within the town. The Town of Nottingham thus becomes the 11th
municipality in the nation to refuse to recognize corporate
constitutional “rights,” and to prohibit corporate rights from being
used to override the rights of human and natural communities.
The vote in Nottingham was 175 to 111 for the ordinance.
When a few people at the end of the meeting, attempted to use RSA
40:10:2 to recall the vote in seven days, after over 75% of the
voters had left, the action was defeated by over 60% of the people
remaining. These two significant votes proclaim Democracy is alive
and well in Nottingham.
At Town Meeting on the same day in Barnstead, voters amended their
Water Rights Ordinance; which was passed almost unanimously at their
Town Meeting two years ago; to include the Rights of Nature.
Barnstead, NH , became the 12th municipality in the nation to
recognize the Rights of Nature. Barnstead voted overwhelmingly on
Saturday, March 15th, to add the Rights of Nature to their ordinance
which has been in place since March 2006, when they became the first
municipality to deny corporate assumed privileges to corporate
entities withdrawing water for resale, within the town.
Ben Price, Projects Director for the Legal Defense Fund, had this to
say, “The people have asserted their right and their duty to protect
their families, environment, and future generations. In enacting this
law, the community has gone on record as rejecting the legal theory
behind Dillon’s Rule, which erroneously asserts that there is no
inherent right to local self-government. The American Revolution was
about nothing less than the fundamental right of the people to be the
decision-makers on issues directly affecting the communities in which
they live. They understood that a central government, at some
distance removed from those affected, acts beyond its authority in
empowering a few powerful men -privileged with chartered immunities
and rights superior to the people in the community – to deny
citizens’ rights, impose harm, and refuse local self-determination.
The peoples of the Towns of Nottingham and Barnstead have acted in
the best tradition of liberty and freedom, and confronted injustice
in the form of a state-permitted corporate assault against the
consent of the sovereign people.”
CELDF’s New Hampshire organizer, Gail Darrell, spoke to the success
of the amendments on Monday.
“The People of Barnstead have agreed to acknowledge that the natural
world needs an advocate – that advocate is us. The water which we all
share is now protected by all of us who live here. We have decided
that protecting the essence of all life is a good way to protect the
health, safety and wellbeing of the community.”
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, located in
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, has worked with communities resisting
corporate assaults upon democratic self-governance since 1995. Among
other programs, it has brought its unique Daniel Pennock Democracy
Schools to communities in 26 states in which people seek to end
destructive and rights-denying corporate acts routinely permitted by
state and federal agencies. In Pennsylvania alone, more than 100
municipalities have enacted ordinances authored by the Legal Defense
Fund. Three municipalities in NH have adopted these rights – based
laws and more towns across the state are looking at the possibility
of drafting one of these local ordinances within the next year.