The current legal system in New Hampshire strips community members of the power to adopt laws to protect their health, safety, and welfare. The system makes it perfectly legal, for commercial and industrial projects that residents consider to be dangerous, to operate in neighborhoods, despite community opposition. For-profit corporations engaging in activities like industrial wind, water mining, gravel extraction, the application of sewage sludge to farmland, large scale hydro-power projects like the Northern Pass, and building infrastructure for transporting shale gas, are all supported by State regulations that legalize harms to the community.
People who are involved with the New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN) have recognized this system as illegitimate. The work of the NHCRN is to assert fundamental rights and drive constitutional changes that liberate local community self-government from such systemic constraints.
NHCRN formed as a response to the needs of a dozen communities engaged in the grassroots organizing work of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). CELDF has assisted Pennsylvania communities to assert local self-government for over 20 years. The Pennsylvania work spread first to New Hampshire in 2005 and has expanded out to now include multiple states where communities receive assistance in drafting Community Bills of Rights – local constitutions – to assert new civil and political rights for the community as a whole.