The community of Bellingham, Washington, has launched a campaign that seeks to revoke the supremacy of corporate rights over the local municipality. Its goal is to reassert the rights of nature as a necessity for the continued survival of the human community, and block the construction of a massive coal-export terminal proposed for the region. The initiative is using an innovative model developed by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a law firm that specializes in this sort of radical experiment in local democracy. 
    
This is a huge step forward for community organizing. It directly addresses the systems of oppressive power that are destroying the planet. This model has been used very effectively in Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Shasta, and other communities around the world. A similar model was used to incorporate rights for nature into the Ecuadorian constitution in 2008 and Bolivia in 2011. This initiative is, in practice, a violation of US federal laws and constitutional provisions regarding commerce, which stipulate that local communities have no power to protect their regions from ecocidal "development." 

 So far, there have been no federal challenges to this model, but such challenges, if and when they occur, may actually strengthen the strategy by clarifying the division between the exploited and the exploiters; by clearly demonstrating how little "democracy" is actually present in this system of government. The sort of direct repression required to reverse one of these decisions could make a lot of enemies for the federal government and the financial interests that they serve.

There is no telling just what the outcome will be if the federal government informs its citizens that they have no legal rights to decide the fate of their own homes and the wellbeing of their offspring. One possibility is the radicalizing of progressives. It should also be noted that many of the communities that have passed these types of initiatives have been politically conservative. For once, challenges to the model would put both the right and the left on the same side.

The Fertile Ground Environmental Institute recognizes that such outcomes that result in the restriction of corporate rights are only positive for the health of our planet. At the same time, we assert that these tactics are just the beginning, a first step in building a strong culture of resistance. To truly overturn the corrupt, brutal system of power that is industrial civilization, other big steps must be taken. 

We must address oppression within our communities, oppression of women, people of color, and many other groups. We must address the issue of the American genocide, and make material and spiritual amends for the blood-soaked land we now inhabit; land that was stolen cruelly from the indigenous communities here at a cost of nearly 100 million indigenous dead. However, first and foremost, we must completely dismantle the industrial economy and all of its associated practices: strip mining, clear-cut logging, ocean trawling, chemical production, mono-crop agriculture, etc. This will take a serious resistance movement.

There are groups and communities who are actively building that resistance movement. Among them are CELDF, Deep Green Resistance, RAMPS, Indigenous Environmental Network, and many others. They need your help. Join them.

More information:

http://coal-free-bellingham.org/

www.deepgreenresistance.org