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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

Oregon Rights of Nature Advocate Receives International Environmental Lifetime Achievement Award

February 28, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Mary Geddry
[email protected]
541-551-1492
www.orcrn.org

EUGENE – This year’s recipient of the international David Brower Lifetime Achievement Award is Lincoln County resident Carol Van Strum. Carol is being recognized for her decades worth of outstanding environmental and social justice work including in the area of rights of nature. An award ceremony is being held on Thursday, March 1, 2018 at 6pm, in the ballroom of the ERB Memorial Union building on the UO campus in Eugene, Oregon.
The international David Brower Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, honors David Brower, one of the founders of the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and the Earth Island Institute. The award is presented to activists, community members, and attorneys who exemplify David Brower’s spirit and the spirit of environmental awareness he sought to awaken in people.

Carol Van Strum’s achievements include leading the fight to stop the spraying of Agent Orange and other herbicides on federal forest land in the Five Rivers Valley of Lincoln County, Oregon in the 1970-80’s. Her tireless efforts put Lincoln County and Oregon on the national map after a successful lawsuit against the U.S. government which banned aerial pesticide spraying on federal forests.
Carol documented the events of that campaign against herbicides in the book “A Bitter Fog: Herbicides and Human Rights” which tells the tragic stories of families affected by aerial pesticide spraying in the Five Rivers area, including Carol’s own children, and exposes the fraudulent studies and corruption that allow continued use of poisons in state and private lands nationwide.

In 2017, Carol joined the efforts of Lincoln County Community Rights, a chapter of the Oregon Community Rights Network, to defend the first-in-the-nation voter-approved, county-wide ban on aerial pesticide spraying to protect people and our natural world from aerially sprayed poisons.
A lawsuit brought by representatives of the timber industry to overturn the people’s vote sprung Carol into action yet again, this time to speak on behalf of the rights of nature. The new law banning aerial spray of pesticides did so in part on the grounds that it violated the rights of ecosystems and natural communities in Lincoln County from being toxically trespassed.

“I have lived in Lincoln County for 43 years in a home surrounded by river and forest. I am part of the ecosystems of Lincoln County. The Declaration of Independence itself asserts that the laws of nature preempt human law. Like the Lorax, I speak for the rights of waters and forests and wildlife to challenge human violations of natural law”, said Carol when she filed in 2017 to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of the Siletz River watershed. A court decision whether the ban on aerial spray will be upheld or overturned is expected soon.

Carol has also been fighting the U.S. Navy’s continuing attempts to weaponize our coastal waters and take over our national forests and other public lands for weapons testing and war games. And in 2017 a publication called the “The Poison Papers” was released that largely came from Carol who had 40 years of documented evidence (100,000 pages) of fraudulent studies and false data used by the chemical industry and government regulators to approve poison products for industries such as industrial logging.

ABOUT THE ORCRN – OREGON COMMUNITY RIGHTS NETWORK
The ORCRN is a 501(c)(3) made up of local chapters and 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.
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Community Rights at PIELC 2018

We’re excited to have two different community rights panels at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference this year!

Nature has Rights: The Right to Exist, Evolve, and Flourish

Sunday, March 4th, 9:00 am to 10:15 am
Many Nations Longhouse
Sponsored by Community Rights Lane County and Oregon Community Rights Network
Does a wolf have a right to survive because it runs, breathes, and values its family (the pack)? Does a forest have a right to exist, thrive, and flourish solely because it is a living entity? Does nature have rights? According to our political and legal systems, it does not.
Laws and governments were not designed to recognize or respect the natural world. Rather they define it as property to be extracted and consumed for profit. That is at the heart of the damage being done to our planet, and until it changes, any idea of protecting Mother Earth is an illusion.
Fortunately, Rights of Nature are starting to be acknowledged and enacted as law. From Ecuador to the United States, to Nepal, and New Zealand; Tribal nations, communities, activists, indigenous peoples, and governments throughout the world are advancing Rights of Nature initiatives.
This panel will talk about the Rights of Nature and what’s being done to get our political and economic systems to recognize them.
Panelists:

Mari will focus on Rights of Nature (RoN) from a global/international level. She will explain why RoN is needed, and what efforts have been taking place globally to make it a reality. This will include laws and legal challenges.

Craig will also discuss Rights of Nature (RoN) from an international/global perspective. He will describe the patterns that can be observed from looking at what has been successful and what has not. This can be used as a guide to enable Rights of Nature locally and globally.

John will discuss Rights of Nature (RoN) from a local perspective. He will describe what is being done in Lane Co, throughout the state of Oregon, and elsewhere. And how this relates to the global efforts.

The art of chemical warfare: Oregon community democracy vs. industrial timber and state government in the battle to end aerial spraying 

Friday, March 2 – 3:50 p.m.-5:05 p.m.
Law room 142.
Sponsored by Community Rights Lane County

The aerial spraying of toxic pesticides is part of Oregon’s logging legacy. This panel will discuss the challenges communities have faced in their efforts to protect people and ecosystems from aerial spraying, as well as the state’s role in providing legal protection.

From Carol Van Strum’s efforts against the federal government in the 80s and the widespread corruption in the EPA, to the community rights movement of the last five years, the panel will discuss the ups and downs of the battle to abolish aerial spraying. Panelists will highlight the lengths that corporations and government have taken to stop local democracy.

Panelists:

  • Rio Davidson – Lincoln County Community Rights
  • TBA member of Community Rights Lane County
  • Evaggelos Vallianatos EPA whistle blower and author of Poison Spring
  • Carol Van Strum author of Bitter Fog and chief person behind the Poison Papers

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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