U.S. Communities

For decades, people across the U.S. have formed neighborhood groups and organized themselves to block corporate assaults against their communities. Those citizens have confronted incinerator corporations, power corporations, factory farm corporations, sludge corporations, big-box retail corporations, water bottling corporations, waste-hauling corporations, “development” corporations and others.

While those efforts have led to some increased regulation of the adverse environmental impacts caused by those corporations, their efforts have failed to fundamentally challenge the legal authority that has been reserved for corporations – and their directors – that enables them to override community decision making with their own. Thus, while we see community after community fight to stop a new factory farm, a Wal-Mart, or mining, under our system of law communities don’t have the power to simply say “No.”

Communities always ask us “Why?” Why can’t they – and not Smithfield Foods – decide what agriculture is going to look like in their community? Why can’t they decide that Wal-Mart is too destructive to the local environment and economy and therefore doesn’t have a proper place in their town? Why can’t they pass a local law to prohibit longwall coal mining, which destroys rivers, streams, and other natural systems?

Through grassroots organizing, public education, ordinance drafting, home rule charter campaigns and the provision of legal counsel, the Legal Defense Fund works with communities – with residents, citizens groups, and municipal governments – to answer and address that fundamental question “Why?”

Through this work, the Legal Defense Fund has become the principal adviser to residents, citizens groups, and municipal governments struggling to transition from merely regulating corporate harms to stopping those harms by asserting local, democratic control directly over corporations.

Today over 200 communities across the U.S. have adopted Legal Defense Fund-drafted laws.

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund works with communities across the country – from New England to California, from Pennsylvania and Virginia, to Spokane, Washington.

If you are interested in learning more about our work and what it might look like in your community, send us an email at info@celdf.org or give us a call at (717) 498-0054. We look forward to hearing from you.

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