Residents ban unsustainable energy projects at Special Town Meeting



Michelle Sanborn, New Hampshire Community Organizer

PLYMOUTH, NH: Last night, residents at a Special Town Meeting in Plymouth, NH, voted 132 to 19 to adopt their Community Rights-Based Ordinance for a Sustainable Energy Future. The ordinance asserts their right to clean air, pure water, and local community self-government, and bans land acquisition for the construction or operation of unsustainable energy projects as a violation of those rights.


Plymouth, NH, residents at Special Town Meeting, January 31, 2018

For several years, Plymouth residents have been working with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) to stop Northern Pass, a 192-mile, high-tower electrical transmission line carrying industrial hydro-power from Canada. Community members recognized the Granite State was being used as an extension cord to deliver power to other states. The cost to New Hampshire communities: risks to their health, water quality, local economies, and surrounding ecosystems.

The people of Plymouth will have none of it. Plymouth resident and Community Rights leader Richard Hage, said, “The state energy and environmental agencies repeatedly demonstrate they have no intention to protect our communities. They issue permit after permit to legalize this devastating project. They cater to every wish of the developer, and they are backed by state and federal government. Now, it’s up to us. We the People must exercise our right to govern and protect the places we live. Here in Plymouth, that’s just what we’re doing.”

CELDF Community Organizer Michelle Sanborn declared, “The residents of Plymouth have been engaged in a long and drawn out effort to recognize, secure, and protect their individual and collective right to make local governing decisions that protect the health, safety, and welfare of residents and ecosystems within the town. This is another step in the growing Community Rights movement in New Hampshire.”

Part of that growing movement is also a rights-based state constitutional amendment. Residents from across the state are advancing the New Hampshire Community Rights Amendment – CACR19 – which was drafted by the New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN) with CELDF’s assistance.

Representative Ellen Read of Newmarket is sponsoring the measure, with bi-partisan support from Representative co-sponsors Suzanne Smith, Janice Schmidt, Raymond Howard, Stephen Darrow, Wayne Burton, Charlotte DiLorenzo, Steven Rand, and Vincent Paul Migliore. The amendment would empower community members and local governments to establish greater protections for people and natural environments than in place at the state and federal level.

New Hampshire Part of Growing Movement

New Hampshire residents are advancing Community Rights as part of the broader Community Rights movement building across the U.S. Local communities and state Community Rights Networks are partnering with CELDF to advance and protect fundamental democratic and environmental rights. They are working with CELDF to establish Community Rights and the Rights of Nature in law, and prohibit 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. New Hampshire joins state Community Rights Networks in Colorado, Oregon, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, where residents are advancing Community Rights state constitutional amendments.

Additional Information

For additional information regarding Community Rights, contact CELDF at To learn about the New Hampshire Community Rights Network, visit Select Boards and citizens interested in supporting the New Hampshire Community Rights Amendment may contact Michelle Sanborn at

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.

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