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Working at the State Level

The Right of Local Community Self-Government Constitutional Amendment would codify into law the right to local, community self-government, enabling local governments to protect fundamental rights and prohibit corporate activities that violate those rights.

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What are Community Rights?

Environmental rights, worker rights, rights of nature - what does this mean, and how does it work? Why do we need Community Rights? Learn more about why communities are taking things into their own hands! Find out More

Communities in Action

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The Oregon Community Rights Network is made up of community rights chapters and individuals. The chapters are local, independent community rights groups who have agreed to be part of the network. Each Chapter has a representative who sits on the Board of the ORCRN. These are currently active community rights chapters:

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ORCRN News

Coos Bay Estuary Informs FERC that Terminal and Pipeline Would Violate Its Rights

October 26, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Mary Geddry – 541-551-1492

[email protected]

Coos Bay

BANDON, OR – Yesterday evening the Coos Bay Estuary filed a motion to intervene in the FERC proceedings to permit Jordan Cove Energy Partners an export terminal at Jordan Cove along with the accompanying Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline.

 

In the intervention filing, submitted by Coos Commons Protection Council on behalf of the estuary, the estuary describes itself as, “an ecosystem made up of a deeply diverse and interdependent community of birds, aquatic plants, fish, shellfish, oysters, insects, and humans.  For millions of years I have served as what your EPA considers a nursery of the sea where salmon and waterfowl breed and oysters filter out sediments and pollutants from the watersheds that feed me. Waters made clean and healthy from the work of natural communities connected to me, help to feed marine life in the ocean.” The estuary finishes its comments to FERC by saying, “The authorization of this project would be unlawful, unethical, poisonous and destructive.”

The full text of the Coos Bay Estuary intervention can be found here:

The main point made by the estuary is to remind the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC) that nature has rights and that human activity, especially corporate fossil fuel activity, has been in violation of the rights of nature. The claim is not merely a statement of right but one of which has been increasingly recognized as legally to be protected:

  • In 2008, the country of Ecuador amended its national constitution to establish the rights of ecosystems within the country to exist, regenerate, evolve, and be restored.
  • On July 27, 2014, Te Urewera, an 821-square mile area of New Zealand, was designated as a legal entity with “[A]ll the rights, powers, duties and liabilities of a legal person.”
  • In November of 2016, Colombia’s Constitutional Court found that the Atrato River, including its tributaries and watershed, is “an entity subject to rights to protection, conservation, maintenance and restoration.”

that human populations are those that are interdependent on the natural world – not the other way around- and that they must assume the consequences of their actions and omissions in relation to nature. It’s about understanding this new socio-political reality with the aim of achieving a respectful transformation with the natural world and its environment, just as has happened before with civil and political rights…economic, social and cultural rights…and environmental rights…Const. Ct. of Colombia

  • On March 20, 2017, the High Court of Uttarakhand at Nainital, in the State of Uttarakhand in northern India, issued a ruling declaring that the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers are “legal persons/living persons.”
  • In September 2017 a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Colorado River against the State of Colorado for violating its rights due to pollution, climate change, and excessive water withdrawal.
  • Over three dozen municipalities within the United States, including the City of Pittsburgh, have adopted municipal laws recognizing the legally enforceable rights of ecosystems and nature, and the authority of municipal residents to bring suits in the name of individual ecosystems

More countries and municipalities are working towards securing nature’s right to exist, persist, flourish, and naturally evolve, which not only brings with it the right of legal standing, but also the full effect of the law to defend rights before the courts when violations occur.

“For millions of years the Coos Bay Estuary has provided habitat, food and shelter to the Southern Oregon coast,” said Mary Geddry. “The estuary deserves the same standing in these proceedings as inanimate objects like corporations.”

This filing precipitates the first US Rights of Nature Symposium being held at Tulane University School of Law, New Orleans, LA. The symposium brings together key leaders in the Rights of Nature movement – from Ecuador, Nepal, the United States, and other countries, as well as from local communities and tribal nations. The symposium’s promotion says this about the event, “Communities, people, and even governments are recognizing that there is a need to make a fundamental shift in humankind’s relationship with the natural world by placing the highest protections on nature through the recognition of legal rights.”

More information about the symposium and access to the live stream found here: https://celdf.org/rights-nature-symposium/

 

 

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Right to Ban Aerial Spraying Passes in Lincoln County

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Mary Geddry

[email protected]

541-551-1492

Voters in Lincoln County have adopted Measure 21-177 by 61 votes. The delay in the final ballot count came as voters who had not signed their ballots were given the opportunity to sign. Voters had until 5pm this evening to make their ballots official with a signature. The vote count at the end of election night had the measure passing by 27 votes.

“It’s been over thirty years since aerial spraying of pesticides have been poisoning our county, so waiting a few more days to confirm that the people of Lincoln County are ready to put that toxic legacy in the past has been well worth it”, says Rio Davidson of Citizens of a Healthy County. “Our right to a healthy environment is key to our quality of life and livelihoods and the people in Lincoln County are done with the timber industry sacrificing our future.”

Measure 21-177 prohibits the aerial spray of pesticides in-order to secure the right to clean air, water, and the overall right to health of people and ecosystems. The common practice of the industrial timber industry is to aerial-spray toxic pesticides (1 to 2 applications yearly for the first 3 to 5 years of growth) on clear-cuts to kill off vegetation “competing” with the growth of newly planted and young commodity crop trees.

“A line has been drawn in the sand by the people of Lincoln County that says our right to decide on protecting our right to clean water, personal health, and protection for ecosystems is more important than allowing a corporate agenda to continue to cause harm to the community.”, says Nancy Ward, board member of the Oregon Community Rights Network (ORCRN).

Despite the affirmative vote of the people of Lincoln County in saying yes to Measure 21-177, Citizens for a Healthy County and the ORCRN are anticipating that the timber industry or supporters of the timber industry will not honor the new law prohibiting aerial spraying and will file a lawsuit to block or overturn the law. Such a lawsuit will pit the right of a community self-government authority to protect health, safety, and welfare against corporate activities that threaten or harm the community’s rights.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

To learn more about Measure 21-177 go to www.yes-on-21-177.org.

“Wins” in Lincoln and Coos

Ballot measures to secure a right to a sustainable energy future went down in  Coos County and the right to be free from aerial spray of pesticides in Lincoln County is currently passing by 27 votes!

Tuesday, May 17, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Mary Geddry
[email protected]
541-551-1492

CORVALLIS – Voters in Coos and Lincoln counties cast votes for citizen qualified ballot measures in the May election where over $1.3 million dollars was spent by corporate interests to defeat them. Measure 6-162, Coos County’s Right to a Sustainable Energy Future ordinance, was rejected by a vote of 76% to 24% and Measure 21-177, Freedom from Aerial Sprayed Pesticides of Lincoln County ordinance, is currently on the road to passing by 27 votes. About one hundred ballots are in question (mostly do to lack of voter signatures), and once those issues are resolved there will be a final ballot count, which isn’t expected until the end of May.

“Once the smoke clears what we are going to see is even more people in Coos County determined to secure our community rights, our right of local self-government. We see that as a big win from last night not how the vote turned out”, says Mary Geddry of Coos Commons Protection Council, drafters of Measure 6-162. “Strange as it may sound, we have the opposition to Measure 6-162 to thank for waking more of us up to the fact that we don’t live in a democracy especially when you witness first hand a Canadian fossil fuel company buying an American election.”

Measure 6-162 in Coos County would have secured a right to a sustainable energy future. The law would have protected that right by prohibiting non-sustainable energy projects including the proposed pipeline and LNG export terminal at Jordan Cove.

“Though we have our fingers crossed that we will prevail, this campaign has already been a win because we raised not only the health issue of aerial spraying in the public’s consciousness but also the lengths the corporate timber and chemical industry will go to to cover up the truth”, says Maria Kraus of Citizens for a Healthy County, proponents of Measure 21-177. “Something has shifted in this community and people really feel like they need a larger role in determining the future of this county.”

Measure 21-177 would prohibit the aerial spray of pesticides in order to secure the right to clean air, water, and the overall right to health of people and ecosystems. The common practice of the industrial timber industry is to aerial-spray toxic pesticides (1 to 2 applications yearly for the first 3 to 5 years of growth) on clear-cuts to kill off vegetation “competing” with the growth of newly planted and young commodity crop trees.

“These recent campaigns to secure community rights in Coos and Lincoln counties have helped bring to light the disparity of power that we all face in our communities today, despite the issue, which is that our system often aligns corporations, government, and the law against the interests of people, communities, and the natural environment”, says Dana Allen, board member of the Oregon Community Rights Network (ORCRN).

Through a petitioning committee of the ORCRN a state constitutional amendment is being proposed that would secure the right of local community self-government. Such a change would allow for communities to advance greater protections and rights on the grounds of health, safety, and welfare than the state, and to be able to do so without the interference of corporate claimed “rights”. The local self-governing authority would only allow for advancing protections and rights but not for undermining or taking away such protections and rights as already secured by state or federal governments.

Along with the state initiative petition campaign, local community rights petitioning efforts are underway in Columbia and Lane counties. Columbia residents are and have faced a number of fossil fuel projects, and are advancing a right to a sustainable energy future ordinance for the November 2017 ballot. Lane is actively petitioning for a ban on aerial spray of herbicides and the right of local community self-government, aiming for the May 2018 ballot.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
To learn more about the ORCRN please visit www.orcrn.org. Information on the ballot measures in Coos County and Lincoln County: yeson6-162.org and yes-on-21-177.org. Information on the right of local community self-government state constitutional amendment can be found here: www.oregoncommunityrights.org

ABOUT THE ORCRN – OREGON COMMUNITY RIGHTS NETWORK
The ORCRN is a 501(c)(3) made up of community rights activists from various communities in Oregon. The mission of the ORCRN is to support and empower communities to secure local self-determination and self-governance rights, superior to corporate power, in order to protect fundamental rights, quality of life, the natural environment, public health, and safety.