"I recently helped the Colorado River sue the State of Colorado in a first-in-the-nation lawsuit — Colorado River v. Colorado — requesting that the United States District Court in Denver recognize the river’s rights of nature. These rights include the rights to exist, flourish, regenerate, and naturally evolve. To enforce these rights, the Colorado River also requests that the court grant the river “personhood” and standing to sue in American courts."
To the Editor:
We are writing in support of the recently proposed State Constitutional amendment CACR19. This amendment would secure N.H. citizens’ right to self-government, thereby guaranteeing local communities the authority to protect the health, safety, and welfare of individuals, communities, and ecosystems. While this right and authority is already supported in Articles 1, 2, 8, and 10 of our N.H. State Constitution’s Bill of Rights, it is not yet specifically recognized.
Such recognition has been a long time coming to strengthen and restore “We the People’s” right to self-determine the future of the communities we live in. This right has been all but suffocated by corrupt corporate privilege that has been woven into law and upheld by judicial precedents. Together with state preemption, this weakening of citizen rights at home has left us with no defense when corporate projects come to develop or to extract resources in our towns--much less when these projects contaminate where we work and live, often with toxic waste. We’ve seen this happen all across our state. We should be able to have a recognized right to local decision-making authority to determine whether or not we want these projects in our communities.
By empowering people with authority to use this self-determining voice, CACR19 would reinforce the viability of our civil rights by supporting our democratic right to cultivate communities founded in peace and civility in which no person or entity has free pass to violate the health, safety, or well-being of another person or of nature, and certainly not for profit. Each day that our government denies us full participation in determining this cultivation, we are discriminated against--blocked from accessing and engaging in our rightful democratic process to protect our basic and inalienable rights that are not limited to but which include our right to clean air, water, and healthy ecosystems.
These inalienable rights were the ideals that birthed this nation’s experiment in democracy. And what is democracy if it is not the civic employment of people’s inalienable right to have democratic authority over what happens in their communities? When we cannot protect ourselves through the self-government so integral to the principles of our Revolutionary ancestors, then we are not living in a democracy. We must not let this right to self-government go un-championed by a disengaged sense of civic duty, nor can we afford to lose it amidst the animosity found in our divided political aisles. Now is the time to unite both community and bi-partisanship solidarity and action to recognize our right to self-government.
Sharing these sentiments is Ellen Read, NH Representative of Rockingham District 17 and the proposer of CACR19: “I truly hope my colleagues join me in supporting the Community Rights Amendment because it means doing exactly what we came to Concord to do--protect the people and ecosystems of NH. This Amendment places the power back into the hands of the governed, the very thing our Revolutionary ancestors fought for.”
What the Revolutionaries of this country fought for was not something they could buy. It was the right to pursue a self-determined life of honesty and goodness. For our legislators to deny us an enlightened path to access this self-determination is for them to admit doubt in their constituents’ ability to reason over and to trust in the goodness that is in ourselves and in the ecosystems around us. CACR19 will secure our right to protect this goodness for a new future honoring people’s and nature’s natural right to sustainability.
The NH Community Rights Network (NHCRN) , of which we are board members, supports Representative Read’s call to amend the state constitution to recognize the right of local community self-government. NHCRN is a non-profit, grassroots organization that seeks to empower communities and elected officials with education and authority about our individual and collective right of local self-governance in order to secure and protect the inherent and unalienable rights of all inhabitants of New Hampshire to economic, social, and environmental justice. For more information about the NHCRN or the proposed constitutional amendment, contact email@example.com or visit www.nhcommunityrights.org.
Douglas Darrell of Center Barnstead
Monica Christofili of Newmarket
PESSAMIT, QC, Nov. 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ - The Pessamit Innu First Nation accuses Hydro-Quebec of failing to uphold its obligations and responsibilities by filling its hydropower reservoirs to near capacity despite the "Precaution Principle" and various laws and regulations applicable in Canada. Hydro-Quebec's procedures in managing its reservoirs do not take into account any potential damage to communities, the environment, and wildlife resulting from the discharge from reservoirs of exceptional volumes of water. These management procedures have recently caused an environmental catastrophe involving 43.4 miles of the Betsiamites River (Northeastern Quebec), and also is jeopardizing the safety of those using the waterway.
Total loss of the Unikamit site, managed by a Pessamit company called Mashkuss Aventures. (CNW Group/Conseil des Innus de Pessamit)
Kim Picard and Jean-Luc Kanape, owners of Mashkuss Aventures, saw their dream washed out by the flow. (CNW Group/Conseil des Innus de Pessamit)
The Bersimis-2 hydroelectric dam discharged exceptional volumes of water. (CNW Group/Conseil des Innus de Pessamit)Following last week's heavy precipitation, Hydro-Quebec discharged large volumes of water into rivers downstream of its installations, increasing water levels and flows to unsurpassed heights, according to Innu tribesmen whose ancestors have occupied the territory for thousands of years. At Hydro-Quebec, the situation is attributed to "exceptional" autumnal flooding resulting in abnormal levels of water in the reservoirs. Spillways on the Bersimis-1 and 2 hydroelectric dams (on the Betsiamites River), those on Manic-5, 3, 2 and 1, on McCormick, Toulnustouc and Outardes-2, were opened one after the other, causing devastating impacts on the environment and wildlife, and creating a catastrophic situation that has not occurred since the Manic-Outardes complex was built in 1978 and Bersimis was completed in 1962.
A total loss
In the wake of these "exceptional" measures, the Betsiamites River, the principal access for the Pessamiulnut to their traditional territories, over-flowed its banks into wooded areas made up of centenary trees that had never before been inundated. Debris of all sizes, including a great number of whole trees, were driven into the river. Clay embankments were also washed out by the flow, creating foreseeable damage to Atlantic salmon spawning sites (spawning season being about to begin). Furthermore, at least six traditional camp sites located in wooded areas were greatly damaged or totally destroyed, including the total loss of the Unikamit site, managed by a Pessamit company called Mashkuss Aventures.
The Chief of the Pessamit Innu Band Council, Mr René Simon, has no doubts as to the actual causes of this situation: "Hydro-Quebec can go on forever about an exceptional seven day downpour occurring in October being the sole factor in the discharge of large volumes of water from the reservoirs, but it's a lie! 2017 precipitation data for this period, compared to normal precipitation data from October 25th to 31st, do not justify releasing so much water at such a time. While it is the case that precipitation was above average during this period, overall precipitation for the summer and fall of 2017 was less than average. In fact, it hardly rained at all in the Quebec North-Shore region during this summer and fall. Why then were Hydro-Quebec's reservoirs filled to such a level that they were ready to overflow after only seven days of rain?"
The smoking gun
The answer is simple: in its frantic race to attain new contracts, Hydro-Quebec has assured its potential clients in New England that its hydropower reserves would be increased beyond the Province of Quebec expected requirements (reminder: New-England's decision is expected in January 2018). Solution: maintain reservoir water levels as high as possible in view of increasing energy producing capacity upon request. The problem is, such a procedure doesn't take into account strong and unexpected periods of rain, as occurred in October 2017. Result: reservoirs overflow and spillways are opened, whatever the consequences.
"This is the type of management we are up against," says Chief René Simon. "While Hydro-Quebec is discharging its reservoirs, it's also abandoning all precautions. Damages sustained by members of our First Nation, those inflicted to our Nitassinan (traditional territory), to various animal species and fish in the Betsiamites River, are only part of the story. When our non-Native neighbours discover the damage inflicted to territories they use for work and recreation, they too will experience the fallacy of Hydro-Quebec's Clean Energy concept. Hopefully, the citizens of New England will do the same before January."
SOURCE Conseil des Innus de Pessamit
11/3/17 by Michelle Sanborn, NHCRN Board of Directors
NOTE: This piece was submitted to newspapers statewide, and to the best of our knowledge, no one ran it.
Local elections are deeply connected to local control and local control is deeply connected to direct democratic decision-making. Therefore, state election officials who are determined to deny local control are in fact working against the people's right to direct democracy.
According to a Union Leader article, Bill gives state power to postpone local elections, published on October 30, 2017, “A House-Senate committee created to resolve conflicts that surfaced last March unanimously agreed to draft a bill that settles the matter in a way more satisfactory to the secretary of state than to the N.H. Municipal Association.” Where is the voice of local people and the town moderators the people elected? The secretary of state was not elected by the people, he was elected by the state legislature.
The nor’easter that created blizzard conditions during the 2017 local March elections created more confusion among state elected officials than local. Local election officials from almost 80 towns saw the value of protecting the health, safety and welfare of voters when - with input from road crews, emergency departments, and weather reports - they used common sense and postponed local elections. It was logical and sensible for the public to accept postponement of town elections; however, our elections, our votes, and the legitimacy of our local election officials were cast into doubt by state officials who appeared offended that the central government apparatus didn’t get the final say over who made the call to postpone.
The solution? a House-Senate committee was created to “resolve conflicts” over who has the authority to decide whether or not local elections get postponed and what constitutes an acceptable reason to postpone. The state committee decided that the non-citizen elected secretary of state now holds authority over citizen-elected town moderators and other local election officials to have final say regarding the health, safety and welfare of voters in their own local communities. Local election officials can weigh in with their opinion and make a request for postponement, but the state gets final decision-making authority over whether or not it is “safe” for you to vote.
The same Union Leader article quoted Senator Jeff Woodburn as saying, “I cannot imagine the secretary of state saying ‘No’ if a town has a legitimate reason for wanting to postpone”, yet that is exactly what happened during the statewide weather emergency on election day. Almost 80 towns expressed a legitimate reason to postpone elections, yet the secretary of state was opposed and insisted towns keep the polls open. Pray for good weather forever and always on election day because you may have to risk your life to vote if Mother Nature sends us another election-day storm.
At least the N.H. Municipal Association sees the value of local elections being determined locally. The association's Executive Director, Judy Silva, was quoted in the Union Leader article as saying, “Inserting a state official into that decision-making process violates local control, is unnecessary and unwieldy.” The NH Community Rights Network (NHCRN) wholeheartedly agrees and supports a call to amend the state constitution to recognize the right of local community self-government.
Representative Ellen Read of Rockingham District 17, has introduced a State Constitutional amendment that would guarantee local communities the authority to protect the health, safety and welfare of individuals, communities, and ecosystems. Representative Read states, “I truly hope my colleagues join me in supporting the Community Rights Amendment because it means doing exactly what we came to Concord to do – protect the people and resources of NH. This Amendment places the power back into the hands of the governed…the very thing our Revolutionary ancestors fought for.”
NHCRN is a non-profit, grassroots organization that seeks to empower communities and elected officials with education and authority about our individual and collective right of local self-governance in order to secure and protect the inherent and unalienable rights of all inhabitants of New Hampshire to economic, social and environmental justice. For more information about the NHCRN or the proposed constitutional amendment, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.nhcommunityrights.org.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Dozens of activists from New Hampshire and the Yale community on Thursday delivered an open letter to the Yale University Investments Office calling on the university to stop the controversial Northern Pass powerline project.
Yale controls 24 miles of the proposed route. With this open letter, major organizations from New England and Quebec are calling on Yale to Stop Northern Pass.
The letter brings together a coalition of environmental, conservation, community, and governmental organizations including the Appalachian Mountain Club, the New Hampshire Sierra Club, the Yale Student Environmental Coalition, Beyond Extreme Energy, the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust, the Ammonoosuc Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the New Hampshire Community Rights Network, and two New Hampshire Select Boards.
Indigenous groups and advocacy organizations, including the Council of the Pessamit Innu and the Association of Native Americans at Yale, also signed the letter.
“Opposition to Northern Pass in New Hampshire is fierce,” said Rick Samson, District 3 Coos County Commissioner. “Nearly all the communities along the proposed route have voted against it.”
According to the petition, Yale is a 98.8 percent owner of Bayroot LLC, which has leased 24 miles of Northern Pass’s proposed route to the developers of Northern Pass. Yale argued in a June 20 statement that it has limited power to influence decisions about the management of the Bayroot land. The letter responds, “Yale owns this land, and cannot shield itself from the consequences of this investment by hiding behind the decisions of a contracted investment manager.”
The letter’s signatories cite environmental and social consequences in New Hampshire and Quebec. “Northern Pass would add more than 1,100 new transmission towers up to 165 feet tall cutting through the heart of New Hampshire’s iconic natural landscape, marring scenic vistas and harming our vital recreation and tourism industry,” said Susan Arnold, Vice President for Conservation at the Appalachian Mountain Club.
Qubec’s Pessamit Innu First Nation tribe has sued Hydro-Qubec for displacing their members with no input from or compensation to the Pessamit themselves. “There are 13 hydroelectric power stations located and operated illegitimately on Pessamit’s traditional territory,” says Rene Simon, Chief of the Pessamit Innu. “Twenty-nine percent of the electricity that Hydro-Quebec intends to transmit with Northern Pass has been forced on us without our agreement or compensation. By agreeing to allow the project to cross its land, Yale University in effect joins in these violations of our rights and those of nature.”
Elizabeth Wyman, a graduate of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, who recently returned from a visit to Pessamit lands, said “The energy produced by Hydro-Quebec’s massive dams is not green energy. The sprawling reservoirs release methane and mercury into the environment and have compromised the culture and livelihood of the Pessamit.”
The demonstration coincided with a talk at the Yale Forest Forum by Dan Hudnut, Vice President of Wagner Forest Management, which signed the lease with Northern Pass on behalf of Yale.