To The Daily Sun,
Recently, a petition was submitted to the SEC regarding Eversource and its presumed authority to route the Northern Pass transmission lines across, over, under and alongside locally maintained highways. The petitioners sought a declaratory ruling from the SEC stating that Eversource must first obtain the required permits and licenses from the selectmen of municipalities before filing for certification from the SEC, and that the SEC does not have exclusive authority to grant permits and licenses specified in NH RSA 231:161, when referring to locally maintained highways. Municipalities participating in this petition were hoping that the SEC would rule that the SEC does not pre-empt this state law and that Eversource would be required to follow the existing law.
The danger in asking the SEC to make a ruling on whether the SEC does or does not trump the existing authority of the municipality is that a door is opened for the SEC to set a future precedent that undermines the authority municipalities clearly have according to RSA 231:161. And, it is already clear that Eversource has not obtained the required licenses and permits from the selectmen of the affected municipalities prior to filing their application with the SEC. The SEC committee decided, 7-1, (earlier this month), to dismiss the petitioners' plea. The SEC made a non-decision by kicking the can down the road to subcommittees working on specific projects, instead of recognizing the authority already clearly spelled out in existing law. Municipalities are left unable to protect the health, safety and welfare of their residents and natural communities.
A growing number of communities across New Hampshire have learned that the state process for deciding projects that directly affect the health, safety and welfare of human and natural communities is akin to insanity. Insanity has been defined by Albert Einstein as, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. These communities have thrown off their subservience and recognized they have a moral and constitutional right to make local governing decisions that protect and expand rights for residents and ecosystems. They have done so through democratically enacted Rights-based Ordinances that include a Community Bill of Rights elevating the rights of residents and ecosystems above the claimed "rights" of corporations by recognizing their authority to self-govern, free from state and federal pre-emptions.
Community Rights is about protecting local economic, environmental and social justices. Community Rights codifies the right to collectively legalize sustainable activities in the places where we live. The N.H. Community Rights Network (NHCRN) has supported local rights-based efforts across the Granite State and proposes a statewide Community Rights constitutional amendment recognizing our right to local self-determination. In this way, every community within the state would have the recognized authority to secure, protect and expand fundamental rights to fresh air, clean water, uncontaminated soil, livable wages, protections for the LGBTQ community, locally controlled sustainable energy sources, election integrity, and safe food choices. The Community Rights amendment specifically prohibits the weakening or restriction of any existing rights.
Under the New Hampshire Community Rights amendment harmful corporate activity would be subject to local decision-making authority free from state and federal pre-emptions. The Community Rights amendment supports pro-accountable business. Those most affected by a project should have collective local decision-making authority over the project.
New Hampshire Community Rights Network
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