Friday, March 06, 2009

MAINE TOWN PUTS ITS WATER IN COMMON TRUST

After Downing Street - The citizens of Shapleigh, Maine voted at a special town meeting to pass a groundbreaking Rights-Based Ordinance, 114 for and 66 against. This revolutionary ordinance give its citizens the right to local self-governance and gives rights to ecosystems but denies the rights of personhood to corporations. This ordinance allows the citizens to protect their groundwater resources, putting it in a common trust to be used for the benefit of its residents.

Shapleigh is the first community in Maine to pass such an ordinance, which extends rights to nature, however, the Ordinance Review Committee in Wells, Maine is considering passing one in their town. These communities have been under attack by Nestle Waters, a multinational water miner that sells bottled water under such labels as Poland Springs.

Communities have opposed the expansion by Nestle Waters, but the corporation will not take no for an answer. The town of Fryeburg, Maine has been in litigation with Nestle for six years. . . .

The concept of a rights-based ordinance was pioneered by environmental attorney Thomas Linzey, founder of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund of Gettysburg, PA. Linzey has assisted the town of Barnstead, New Hampshire with their rights-based ordinance, which was passed in 2006 and with another in Nottingham, New Hampshire, which passed in 2008.

To date there have been no legal challenges to these ordinances. Linzey also crafted Ecuador's new Constitution, which also gives the ecosystem rights. Ecuador is the first country in the world to protect its natural resources from corporate exploitation.