To The Daily Sun,
Imagine a world where the decisions that affect a community are made by the residents of that community. A place where true democracy exists and the people can vote up or down on an issue that affects their health, safety, property and the environment of their community. It's hard to imagine such a world since any American alive today has never experienced such a thing. Decisions have always been made in this country from the top down, while the people who live in those communities are at the bottom of the decision-making totem pole.
It has a lot to do with innate human hierarchical thinking, which means we, like most other living creatures, naturally defer to a higher authority, even if we complain and occasionally lash out at that oppression. That's why we repeatedly vote to elect politicians. We expect our elected officials to know best and do the moral and ethical things that will protect us and our environment even though we're disappointed over and over again.
There is also the "Normalcy Bias", which is a fantasy world we live in which says the way things are today will be the way they will always be. In other words, why fight city hall — this is the way it works.
This is why unpopular projects such as fracking, gas pipelines, Northern Pass, and inefficient wind turbine ventures get approved and imposed upon unwilling communities. It's because the people simply don't fight back in a productive manner. We fight each project as a single issue and we end up settling for mitigation of damage to the people and the environment. Outright victory is rare, and this leaves us frustrated and disillusioned. The only way for people to take back control of this country is to fight for a systemic change to the process.
Voters in several communities across New Hampshire have decided to fight for this systemic change. In 2006 Barnstead became the very first municipality in the nation to prohibit corporations from privatizing its water. Through an overwhelming Town Meeting vote, they adopted an ordinance banning corporations from massive water extraction projects. This ordinance, known as The Barnstead Water Rights & Local Self-Government Ordinance, is based on constitutional rights, not regulatory law. Why did they do this? Because they saw their neighbors in Nottingham trying to fight a permit the state Department of "Environmental Services" issued to USA Springs, allowing them to extract up to 300,000 gallons of water per day from a local aquifer to bottle and sell. Being a rural farming community, they understood immediately the threat on their lives and the impact that could have. In 2008 Nottingham passed its own Community Bill of Rights Ordinance and has since won their battle against USA Springs. (The permit expired and the company filed for bankruptcy.)
Folks further north in Sugar Hill, Easton and Plymouth have passed similar ordinances that puts their constitutional rights above the "alleged rights" of Eversource (formerly PSNH) and Hydro-Quebec to use them as a resource colony so they can profit from the Northern Pass project. Four towns in the Mt. Cardigan/Newfound Lake region have also adopted ordinances providing a "Right to a Sustainable Energy Future and Community Self-Government" to protect the pristine ridgelines and waters from the subterfuge that is industrial wind projects.
Today the New Hampshire Community Rights Network is looking for sponsors to introduce a bill for a constitutional amendment that would solidify those communities' right to protect their health, safety and welfare. There will soon be a letter addressed to your town select board asking them to place a resolution on the next warrant in support of this amendment as well. We encourage everyone to support this resolution.
Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. To learn how to make real change, go to nhcommunityrights.org.
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