Joins Colorado as the Second State in the Nation to Assert Community Rights
February 23, 2015

Media Contact: Kai Huschke

The Oregon Community Rights Network (ORCRN) recently submitted a proposed state constitutional amendment to the state’s Elections Division. The constitutional amendment is titled “The Right to Local, Community Self-Government.” If adopted, it will 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. As well, it will secure the authority of communities to put in place stronger rights and protections than those recognized at the state, federal, or international level.

In 2014, Colorado was the first state to advance a similar amendment. Oregon is aiming to have their citizen’s initiative on the ballot for November 2016. Both states were assisted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) in the drafting and legal review of the constitutional amendments.

Since 2013, CELDF and partner residents, local organizations, farmers, activists, and others, have been working to advance community rights in Oregon. Communities confront an array of corporate projects, ranging from LNG pipelines and coal and oil trains, to pesticides and GMOs. People are working to adopt Community Bills of Rights laws that secure the rights of people and nature over corporate claimed “rights” to transport frack gas, coal and oil, spray pesticides, or use GMOs.

These communities are confronting a structure of law and governance under which corporations have more power to decide the fate of communities than the people who live there, as they are permitted to:

  • Grow GMOs
  • Build LNG pipelines
  • Spray toxic pesticides
  • Gentrify neighborhoods
  • Factory farm animals
  • Take private property for corporate use
  • Silence workers
  • Transport unwanted coal and oil
  • Maintain poverty wages

“More and more frequently, Oregon communities are saying, ‘We have a democracy problem – not a GMO, LNG pipeline, or development problem,’” says Kai Huschke, CELDF Northwest Organizer. “The constitutional amendment to establish and protect the right to local, community self-government, takes direct aim at corporate exploitation of communities, and elevates communities to be the lead protectors of public health, safety and welfare.”

The Oregon Community Rights Network was formed in 2013 to support local and state community rights efforts through grassroots organizing, education and outreach. The ORCRN joins Colorado, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington as part of the National Community Rights Network. In each state, communities are working to adopt Community Bill of Rights laws on the local level as well as working towards a similar state constitutional amendment to recognize the right to local, community self-government, as is now being launched in Oregon.


Through grassroots organizing and public interest law, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund works with communities across the country to establish Community Rights to democratic, local self-governance and sustainability. CELDF has assisted close to 200 communities to ban shale gas drilling and fracking, factory farming, water privatization, and other threats, and eliminate corporate “rights” when they violate community and nature’s rights. This includes assisting the first communities in the U.S. to establish Rights of Nature in law, as well as the first communities to elevate the rights of communities above the “rights” of corporations.

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