Alexandria, NH: Support for a Constitutional Amendment to Allow Community Rights to Local Self-Government
Sept. 19, 2015 – NH Community Rights Amendment – Michelle Sanborn, Alexandria, NH, NHCRN Coordinator
The people of New Hampshire realize that even with traditional New England Town Meeting governing style, and the largest representative body of any other state, that communities are being denied the right to decide what happens where they live.
Hydro-Quebec’s Northern Pass project, if permitted, would produce 190-miles of HVDV transmission lines and towers from Canada to southern New Hampshire. A scar through some of New Hampshire’s most pristine and un-fragmented wild places, to carry electricity to feed the demands of southern New England states. Almost every community along the Northern Pass route objects to the project as proposed. Who decides the fate of communities targeted by HQ NP – a presidential permit and the state agency known as the Site Evaluation Committee (SEC).
Along the central-western ridgelines of New Hampshire, industrial wind developers have been bullying communities with a number of projects over the past four years. Global developers, like Energias de Portugal (EDP), are eager to profit from one of the region’s most sought after resources – unspoiled ridgelines. Even communities not targeted to host industrial wind projects are in opposition to the destruction of New Hampshire’s pristine ridgelines for the sake of “not clean, not green, not cheap” energy. Who decides the fate of communities targeted by industrial wind developers – the SEC.
The Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct pipeline project has awakened the more populated southern part of New Hampshire to the reality of the systemic stripping away of any authority communities have over the decision making process. Originally, southern New Hampshire was considered the alternate route for piping fracked gas from the Marcellus Shale to the East Coast for export. Communities across New Hampshire are beginning to understand what NIMBY truly stands for – Next It Might Be You! Who decides the fate of communities targeted by the KM NED pipeline – the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Corporate water withdrawal and gravel mining corporations have targeted a number of Granite State communities as resource colonies. These resources are vital to the local survival and sustainability of surrounding ecosystems and those that depend on them. New Hampshire has a history of independence and time has not diluted that spirit. Communities are not giving up the resources they depend upon for survival without a challenge. Who decides the fate of communities targeted for corporate water withdrawal – the State of NH through the Department of Environmental Services.
From all across New Hampshire, communities have come together to form the New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN). Participants of the NHCRN realize the common denominator shared by those targeted as “resource colonies for profit” – that sustainable environmental and economic development can be achieved only when the people affected by governing decisions are the ones who make such decisions. An awakening is stirring in the hearts and minds of Granite Staters. In order to protect the resources they hold dear, and protect their very own survival, they must frontally challenge the current structure of law that legalize these harms.
The NHCRN is prepared to challenge our elected representatives to see the current structure of law for what it truly is – a “free pass” that allows for-profit corporations to rape and plunder the natural resources that Granite Staters depend upon for environmental and economic survival; a denial of freedom for the people of New Hampshire to protect their health, safety and welfare; and a blatant contradiction to the New Hampshire Constitution.
The New Hampshire Constitution, Part First, Bill of Rights provides that (Article 2.) all men have certain natural, essential and inherent rights; (Article 1.) all government of right originates from the people and is founded in consent; (Article 8.) all power resides originally in, and is derived from the people and all magistrates and officers of government are accountable at all times to them; (Article 10.) and government being instituted for the common benefit, and not for private interest, whenever the ends of government are perverted, the people may, and of right, ought to reform the old or establish a new government.
The NHCRN is not only challenging our elected representatives to see the current structure of law for what it truly is, but we call on the Legislature of the State of New Hampshire to place a constitutional amendment before the people that acknowledges the rights of communities, and of their governments, to enact local laws to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people, their community and natural environment. An amendment to our NH State Constitution that would allow communities to decide what happens where they live. In order to protect the health, safety and welfare of natural people and their environments, communities must have the authority to prohibit activities that would violate their rights.
The NHCRN is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that has partnered with Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) to draft the NH Community Rights Amendment we are proposing for the 2016 Legislative Session. Residents from Colorado and Oregon are also proposing state constitutional amendments to recognize their inherent and unalienable Right of Local Community Self-Government. Participants of this grassroots people’s movement understand that bargaining with for-profit corporations, state environmental agencies, and our elected representatives will NOT change the system. Just as with prior movements to free slaves, give women the right to own property and vote, and the movement for civil rights – we must stop accepting the legalization of our communities as resource colonies. We must assert our Right of Local Community Self-Government to enact local laws that protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of New Hampshire and the ecosystems we depend upon for survival. Visit NHCRN at www.nhcommnityrights.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the NH Community Rights Amendment.