with Tish O’Dell (OH) Michelle Sanborn (NH) & Chad Nicholson (PA), Organizers, CELDF.
moderated by Iris Stewart-Frey, ESS, and Sarah Danon, tUrn
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) Organizers will discuss how this question has been addressed by communities in NH, PA and OH.
The very first Rights of Nature Law was passed in 2006 with CELDF assistance, in Tamaqua Borough, PA. In this session, CELDF organizers will describe how communities like Tamaqua reached a breaking point and realized that the current environmental laws were not giving them a voice in protecting bodies of water in the community and how lopsided the environmental protection laws were in favor of corporations and industry. In NH, USA Springs, LLC wanted to withdraw and bottle waters for pure profit, threatening to contaminate and dry up local wells. In PA, oil/gas drilling companies want to dump their toxic waste in watersheds, and residents in several communities are fighting back to protect water for humans and natural communities. In OH, industrial agriculture is the known cause of harmful algae blooms and caused the shutdown of water for over 500,000 residents for 3 days.
All of these communities were pushed to a limit and forced to examine and challenge the current system of law using a new paradigm-shifting model, recognizing and legalizing the waters as living entities with rights. Through the stories of these three communities, we will examine why the current legal system does not meaningfully protect water, and show how Rights of Nature is a legal and cultural shift to a system that can protect the water.