First-in-state to elevate community rights over corporate “rights” and recognize rights of nature
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OREGON: The election results from Lincoln County, OR, are in: Lincoln residents adopted the first-in-the nation countywide Freedom from Aerial Sprayed Pesticides ordinance by 61 votes. Lincoln residents are the first in Oregon to secure people’s environmental and democratic rights, challenging the claimed “rights” of corporations. They are also the first to secure the rights of nature to exist and flourish, joining a growing number of communities across the U.S. and globally who are recognizing ecosystem rights. Measure 21-177 bans aerial sprayed pesticides as a violation of those rights.
The measure was ahead by 27 votes in the ballot count on election night (May 16th). However, there were 100 unsigned ballots that could still be counted towards the total. Those voters had until May 30th to sign their ballots, which were then added to the final count and secured the win.
Lincoln County residents have faced decades of toxic aerial pesticide spraying by the industrial timber industry. Timber corporations repeatedly aerial spray toxic pesticides on clearcuts to kill off “competing” vegetation and animals that threaten newly planted and young commodity crop trees. Residents have been working with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) since 2013 to protect themselves from the dangerous practice. Measure 21-177 was drafted with CELDF’s assistance.
“It’s a legacy moment for our community – out with toxic corporate chemicals and in with protecting community rights,” said Rio Davidson, campaign member of Citizens for a Healthy County. The local group spearheaded the campaign in support of Measure 21-177.
“The win in Lincoln County is a win for all of Oregon. Lincoln residents are trailblazers, leading the way for other Oregon communities to assert their right to self-govern over corporate control,” says Kai Huschke, CELDF Northwest Organizer. He noted, “This will strengthen the work of the Oregon Community Rights Network, which is advancing a state constitutional amendment that recognizes the rights of all Oregon communities to local community self-government.”
The people’s win took place despite staggering campaign contributions from timber and chemical corporations. Nearly $300,000 was spent in the attempt to defeat Measure 21-177. Lincoln County residents fought back with $16,000.
Citizens for a Healthy County and CELDF are preparing for a lawsuit, anticipating backlash from the timber industry in defiance of the vote and wishes of the people of Lincoln County. At stake: whether the right of local community self-government exercised to protect health, safety, and welfare is recognized by the courts as superior to corporate claimed “rights.”
Oregon Communities Part of Growing Movement
Oregon residents are advancing local democratic and environmental rights as part of the broader “community rights” movement building across the United States. Local communities and state Community Rights Networks are partnering with CELDF to advance fundamental democratic and environmental rights. They are working with CELDF to establish community rights and the rights of nature in law, and prohibit extraction, fracking, factory farming, water privatization, and other industrial activities as violations of those rights. Communities are joining together within and across states, working with CELDF to advance systemic change – recognizing our existing system of law and governance as inherently undemocratic and unsustainable.
For information on the Lincoln County campaign, go to: yes-on-21-177.org. For information on community rights efforts in Oregon visit: orcrn.org. To learn more about the Oregon state constitutional amendment, see http://oregoncommunityrights.org/.
About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit, public interest law firm providing free and affordable legal services to communities facing threats to their local environment, local agriculture, local economy, and quality of life. Its mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature. www.celdf.org.
Photo source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Flickr Creative Commons