BLUE HILL LIBRARY TALK ON AUG 9:A talk at the Blue Hill Library on Friday, August 9 at 6:30 pm will be given by Gail Darrell of Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), a community rights & environmental organization. Gail is CELDF’s New England Community organizer. She will be speaking on "Nature Rights & Privatization" especially as it relates to Blue Hill Bay & Morgan Bay. CELDF assists grassroots organizations Some information on the CELDF organization is included below or you can check out their website: www.celdf.org for more background.  Contact Hugh Curran at hugh.curran@umit.maine.edu if you need further particulars about the talk.
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF): Some background information:
CELDF was formed in 1995 in Pennsylvania by Thomas Linzey, Executive Director, and Stacey Schmader, Administrative Director, to provide free and affordable legal services to community groups.  Over the first several years, we assisted hundreds of communities in Pennsylvania facing unwanted corporate development projects such as incinerators and quarries…Beginning in 1998, we began to assist communities to draft legally binding laws in which they asserted their right to self-govern…CELDF has now become the principal advisor to activists, community groups, and municipal governments struggling to transition from merely regulating corporate harms to stopping those harms by asserting local, democratic control directly over corporations. We’ve now taught nearly 200 Democracy Schools across the country and over 100 communities have adopted Legal Defense Fund-drafted ordinances.
Rights of Nature:The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund  (CELDF) is working with communities in the United Statesand in countries around the world on grassroots organizing, public education and outreach, research, and legislative drafting – assisting people, NGOs, elected representatives, and government officials to craft and adopt new laws that change the status of natural communities and ecosystems from being regarded as property under the law to being recognized as rights-bearing entities.   Through this work, the Legal Defense Fund has assisted more than three dozen communities in the U.S., and assisted the Constituent Assembly of Ecuador, to put in place a new paradigm to protect nature – a paradigm based on rights. By most every measure, the environment today is in worse shape than when the major U.S. environmental laws were adopted over thirty years ago.  Since then, countries around the world have sought to replicate these laws.  Yet, species decline worldwide is increasing exponentially, global warming is far more accelerated than previously believed, deforestation continues unabated around the world, and overfishing by corporate trawlers in the world’s oceans is pushing many fisheries to collapse. These laws – including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and similar state laws – legalize environmental harms by regulating how much pollution or destruction of nature can occur under law. Rather than preventing pollution and environmental destruction, our environmental laws instead codify it In addition, under commonly understood terms of preemption, once these activities are legalized by federal or state governments, local governments are prohibited from banning them. In the U.S., title to property carries with it the legal authority to destroy the natural communities and ecosystems that depend upon that property for survival.  In fact, environmental laws in the U.S. were passed under the authority of the Commerce Clause, which grants exclusive authority over “interstate commerce” to Congress.  Treating nature as commerce has meant that all existing environmental law frameworks in the U.S. are anchored in the concept of nature as property. The Legal Defense Fund has assisted communities in the United States to craft first-in-the-nation laws that change the status of natural communities and ecosystems from being regarded as property under the law to being recognized as rights-bearing entities. Those local laws recognize that natural communities and ecosystems possess an inalienable and fundamental right to exist and flourish, and that residents of those communities possess the legal authority to enforce those rights on behalf of those ecosystems.  In addition, these laws require the governmental apparatus to remedy violations of those ecosystem rights.

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