Corporations never were people – rock on Maine!

Maine Town Passes Ordinance Asserting Local Self-Governance and Stripping Corporate Personhood

Sun, 2009-03-01 18:08.


Today the citizens of Shapleigh, Maine voted at a special town meeting to

pass a groundbreaking Rights-Based Ordinance, 114 for and 66 against. This

revolutionary ordinance give its citizens the right to local

self-governance and gives rights to ecosystems but denies the rights of

personhood to corporations. This ordinance allows the citizens to protect

their groundwater resources, putting it in a common trust to be used for

the benefit of its residents.


Shapleigh is the first community in Maine to pass such an ordinance, which

extends rights to nature, however, the Ordinance Review Committee in Wells,

Maine is considering passing one in their town. These communities have been

under attack by Nestle Waters, N.A., a multi-national water miner that

sells bottled water under such labels as Poland Springs.


Communities have opposed the expansion by Nestle Waters, but the

corporation will not take no for an answer. The town of Fryeburg, Maine has

been in litigation with Nestle for six years. Nestle wants to expand and

the town’s people say no to the tanker trunk traffic which has disrupted

their quiet scenic beauty, so Nestle’s tactic is to wear them down, and

break their bank.


Nestle is the world’s largest food and beverage company and has very deep

pockets. However, we won’t back down, we are the stewards of this most

precious resource water, and we want to protect it for future generations.


Activists in Maine are well aware that the Nestle Corporation is not just

interested in expanding for the purpose of filling their Poland Springs

bottles today, they are interested in the control of Maine‘s abundant water

resources for the future. They are expanding in many parts of this country

from McCloud, California to Maine. Nestle is positioning themselves to

capitalize on the emerging crisis of global water scarcity.


The right to water is a social justice issue and we believe that it should

not be sold to those who can afford it, leaving the world’s poorest

citizens thirsty. Citizens will do a much better job of protecting this

resource than a for-profit corporation.


The concept of a rights-based ordinance was pioneered by environmental

attorney Thomas Linzey, founder of the Community Environmental Legal

Defense Fund of Gettysburg, PA. Linzey has assisted the town of Barnstead,

New Hampshire with their rights-based ordinance, which was passed in 2006

and with another in Nottingham, New Hampshire, which passed in 2008.


To date there have been no legal challenges to these ordinances. Linzey

also crafted Ecuador‘s new Constitution, which also gives the ecosystem

rights. Ecuador is the first country in the world to protect its natural

resources from corporate exploitation.


Activists have learned the hard way that trying to protect their

communities and the environment by going the route of fighting a typical

regulatory ordinance, which is written by corporate lobbyists, will fail to

protect communities from harms done.


The multi-national corporation’s allegiance is never to the communities

where they do business, as that could conflict with their fiduciary

responsibility to make a profit for stockholders.


People throughout the country are saying “enough is enough, large

corporations have too much power.” Constitutional Rights were granted to

corporations from the bench in the 1800’s and it is time to rectify a

wrong! People are saying let’s dismantle the neo-colonial corporate power

by starting with their right to personhood.


In Maine, we are tired of Nestle behaving as if they are a Colonial power

with a right to our water resources. We decided that we will behave as if

we have the power and ignore the naysayers who said that people will never

vote to take rights away from corporations or to give rights to nature. We

want to encourage other communities join us. The time is now!


Copies of the The Shapleigh, Maine Town Warrant calling for a special town

meeting and The Shapleigh Water Rights and Local Self-Government Warrant

are available from the Contact Person, below.


For more information on attorney Thomas Linzey and the Community

Environmental Defense Fund, please visit:


For more information about the battle to protect ground water in

communities in Maine, please visit: Click on the

LEGISLATION tab and go to ORDINANCES to read the important new Shapleigh



CONTACT PERSON: Jamilla El-Shafei Save Our Water steering committee member

and organizer steering committee member of the Maine Water Allies

(state-wide coalition) 603.969.8426  


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