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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

Who Decides on Aerial Spraying?

Hearing on October 9th to look at Lincoln County’s measure 21-177 a ban on aerial spraying of pesticides

October 3, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Maria Sause
[email protected]
541.574.2981 541.961.5606

Rio Davidson
541.961.6385
[email protected]

Newport, Oregon: On the morning of October 9th, Judge Sheryl Bachart will hear from parties in the lawsuit Rex Capri and Wakefield Farms, LLC vs. Dana W. Jenkins and Lincoln County, and intervenor-defendants Lincoln County Community Rights. The lawsuit was filed in response to the people’s affirmative vote to ban aerial spraying of pesticides in Lincoln County on May 16, 2017. The ballot measure, Measure 21-177, has been law in Lincoln County since early June, and no documented aerial spraying has occurred since then.

In their original complaint and associated briefs, plaintiffs Rex Capri of Newport and Wakefield Farms LLC of Eddyville claim that the county’s ban on aerial spraying of pesticides is overridden by state preemption laws. If that claim is upheld, it would mean that the authority of corporations to engage in aerial pesticide spraying for profit is held to be superior to the right of the people of Lincoln County to ban such spraying due to its documented harms to public health and the environment.

The most recent evidence of the toxic effect of pesticides came to light a month or so ago, when it finally became possible to release an extensive collection of documents, now referred to as the Poison Papers (www.poisonpapers.org). The documents had been stored for several decades by Lincoln County resident Carol Van Strum, a key figure in getting the government to stop aerial pesticide spraying on federal forests in Lincoln County back in the 1980’s.

The plaintiffs claim additionally that the measure should never have been voted on in the first place, because the county lacked the authority to even pose the question of an aerial spray ban to the voters of Lincoln County.

“Do we, as a community, have the right to determine to protect ourselves, our children, and our environment from a clear harm like the spraying of pesticides from aircraft into the atmosphere?” asks John Colman-Pinning, long-time Lincoln County resident and activist with intervenor-defendants Lincoln County Community Rights. “We wholeheartedly believe we do have that right and that is what the court must affirm as a legitimate right.”

In defending the authority of Lincoln County voters to enact the ban, Lincoln County Community Rights (LCCR) will be asserting the people’s right of local community self-government. LCCR will argue that, based on their inherent and inalienable right to self-govern, the people of Lincoln County have lawfully enacted local rights to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the County’s residents and environment more stringently than the state is willing to protect them. The voters’ approval of Measure 21-177 also protects the community’s rights to clean air and water. Additionally, LCCR argues that, even under the state’s laws, the ordinance is lawful because local laws are presumed to be valid except where the law conflicts with preemptive statutes. LCCR maintains that the laws can be read to coexist where they seek to achieve different purposes.

“This case gets to the heart of who and what our laws are meant to protect: the people or corporations? Community welfare or corporate profits? Lincoln County Community Rights is standing up to say that the law must recognize the right of the people, not corporations, to decide fundamental issues in the communities where they live.” says Ann Kneeland, attorney for LCCR.

The hearing on the parties’ motions for summary judgment will be heard at 11:00 am on Monday, October 9th, in front of Judge Sheryl Bachart, in Courtroom 300 of the Lincoln County Courthouse in Newport.

ABOUT LINCOLN COUNTY COMMUNITY RIGHTS

Lincoln County Community Rights is a public benefit organization that seeks to educate and empower people to exercise their right of local community self-government in matters that pertain to their fundamental rights, their natural environment, their quality of life, their health and their safety. Given the harms that people and ecosystems suffer from the practice of aerial spraying of industrial forest land with pesticides, the group drafted an ordinance to ban aerial pesticide spraying in Lincoln County, Oregon. Measure 21-177 was adopted by voters in May 2017, making Lincoln County the first county in the United States to ban aerial pesticide spraying through the vote of the people. www.lincolncountycommunityrights.org

15,000 Lane County Residents Call for Ban on Aerial Spraying

September 25, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Rob Dickinson
[email protected]
541-543-5735

 

Volunteers from throughout Lane County have collected more than 15,000 signatures calling for a ban on the aerial spraying of herbicides by timber corporations. On Friday, September 29 at 10 a.m., citizens will deliver the petitions for certification to the Lane County Elections office at 275 West 10th Avenue in Eugene.
The Lane County Freedom from Aerial Spraying of Herbicides Bill of Rights would amend the county charter to make it unlawful for corporations or governmental agencies to engage in the aerial spraying of herbicides from helicopters and other airborne vehicles.
The amendment requires 11,500 signatures of registered Lane County voters to qualify, but public support has been so strong the final tally has far exceeded that. Once certified by the county election office, the amendment will be put to a public vote on a future ballot.
Katja Kohler-Gause, one of the Chief Petitioners of the initiative and a member of Freedom from Aerial Herbicides Alliance, says “This is not just about ending the aerial spraying of herbicides in our county. It’s also about the people of Lane County asserting their right to say “No” to harmful practices by huge corporations that threaten our health, safety, and welfare. These corporations engage in these hazardous practices with little regard for how they affect the community, and that’s got to stop.”
A second ballot initiative, The Lane County Self-Government Charter Amendment, that acknowledges the right of local communities to prevent corporate harms, like aerial spraying, fracking or oil pipelines, with the same authority secured in the Declaration of Independence, the Oregon Constitution, and the United States Constitution, currently has over 11,000 signatures of registered voters.
In all, Lane County residents have collected nearly 27,000 signatures to protect their community from corporate harms to our environment, health, economy, and individual liberties.
Community members, small business owners, and Chief Petitioners will be available for interviews.
MORE INFORMATION
Information on Community Rights Lane County can be found at: http://communityrightslanecounty.org/
Information on the Lane County Freedom from Aerial Spraying of Herbicides Bill of Rights and The Lane County Self-Government Charter Amendment can be found at: http://communityrightslanecounty.org/ordinances/our-community-our-rights/ and http://www.freedomfromaerialherbicides.org/

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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.