The right of local self-government
Posted May 20, 2019 at 11:31 AM Updated May 20, 2019 at 11:31 AM
To the Editor:
In March of this year 74 of our New Hampshire state representatives voted in favor of allowing the people of New Hampshire to vote on the New Hampshire Community Rights state constitutional amendment affirming the right of local self-government. Some 282 representatives voted to effectively undermine the efforts of New Hampshire communities that have enacted local ordinances saying no to corporate harms and yes to environmental and social justice.
Barnstead residents watched for years as sludge, laced with carcinogens from Monsanto and other toxic industries, was dumped on farmlands impacting groundwater. We then looked on as our neighbors in the town of Nottingham fought the USA Springs takeover of their water resources. Barnstead residents subsequently enacted a rights-based ordinance asserting our right to control and protect our water resources. And recently Barnstead enacted a freedom from religious identification ordinance in response to burgeoning religious intolerance.
The NH Community Rights Amendment would have protected these ordinances — as well as those enacted in numerous NH towns fighting pipelines and other corporate harms — from state preemption and would have specifically enumerated the right to local self-government affirmed in the NH State Constitution’s Bill of Rights.
Ask your representatives if they voted to support local decision-making, the NH Community Rights Amendment, or if they chose to yield to party pressure and bow to corporate donors. Ask them if they will, in the future, recognize the constituency they are serving and understand that the people most affected by decisions should be the ones making those decisions.
People all over New Hampshire are working with the New Hampshire Community Rights Network to realize true local self-government so we can dismantle the power structures that have kept us at the mercy of corporate greed. It’s time that all of our legislators support the people’s work that will sustain and enrich our communities. Kudos to the 74 legislators who did.
Diane St. Germain, NHCRN Board member
The Nottingham Water Alliance (NWA) has retained the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) to represent them in defending the Freedom from Chemical Trespass Ordinance.
A challenge has been brought by Brent Tweed of G&F Goods, LLC in Rockingham Superior Court. The Ordinance was passed by voters in March of this year at Nottingham Town Meeting.
The new Rights-based Ordinance protects the rights of Town residents to clean water, air, and soil, and prohibits corporations or government agencies from disposing of toxic wastes in Nottingham in order to protect those rights. This is the second such Ordinance adopted by the Town of Nottingham, the first protecting the right of Townspeople to clean drinking water by banning commercial water extraction. The Right to Water Ordinance was passed in 2008 and prevented USA Springs from extracting and bottling water, draining Nottingham’s aquifer.
“We are concerned about keeping our children safe by keeping toxins out of our water,” said Judy Doughty, Board member of the Nottingham Water Alliance. There are around 850 toxic waste sites in New Hampshire, including 22 on the national Superfund registry.
“The people of Nottingham are the best ones to protect our water and natural resources, and the voters have spoken at Town Meeting,” stated John Terninko, Chairperson of the NWA. “Seven children have been diagnosed with cancer near the Coakley Landfill and two have died, and we don’t want that problem in Nottingham.”
For more information contact John Terninko of NWA or Michelle Sanborn of CELDF.