The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund  [Printer-friendly version]
February 11, 2008


[Rachel's introduction: A municipality takes precautionary action
against chemical exposures without informed consent ("chemical
trespass"): Halifax, Va. joins the growing list of communities
recognizing the rights of nature.]

On February 7, 2008, the Town Council of Halifax, Virginia, voted
unanimously to adopt an ordinance banning corporate chemical and
radioactive bodily trespass. Enacted to confront concerns about the
proposed uranium mine in adjacent Pittsylvania County, the ordinance
establishes strict liability and burden-of-proof standards for
culpable corporations and government entities that permit and
facilitate corporate bodily trespass.

The ordinance also strips corporations of constitutional protections
within the town. The Town of Halifax thus becomes the 10th
municipality in the nation to refuse to recognize corporate
constitutional "rights," and to prohibit corporate rights from being
used to override the rights of human and natural communities.

The ordinance adopted by the Halifax Town Council also recognizes the
rights of natural communities and ecosystems to exist and flourish
within the town and provides for the enforcement and defense of those
rights, and prohibits corporations from interfering with the civil
rights of residents, including residents' right to self-government.
The ordinance was drafted for the Halifax Town Council by the
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a Pennsylvania-based
nonprofit law firm.

Ben Price, Projects Director for the Legal Defense Fund commented that
"The people of the Town of Halifax have determined that they do not
consent to be irradiated, nor to be trespassed upon, by toxic
substances that would be released by Virginia Uranium, Inc., or any
other state-chartered corporation. The people have asserted their
right and their duty to protect their families, environment, and
future generations. In enacting this law, the community has gone on
record as rejecting the legal theory behind Dillon's Rule, which
erroneously asserts that there is no inherent right to local self-
government. The American Revolution was about nothing less than the
fundamental right of the people to be the decision-makers on issues
directly affecting the communities in which they live. They understood
that a central government, at some distance removed from those
affected, acts beyond its authority in empowering a few powerful men -
privileged with chartered immunities and rights superior to the people
in the community -- to deny citizens' rights, impose harm, and refuse
local self-determination. The people of the Town of Halifax have acted
in the best tradition of liberty and freedom, and confronted injustice
in the form of a state-permitted corporate assault against the consent
of the sovereign people."

Shireen Parsons, the Legal Defense Fund's Virginia Organizer,
commended the action of the Halifax Town Council, stating that, "The
council members demonstrated courage and solidarity in their
commitment to justice and their duty to govern in the interest of
protecting and preserving the health, safety and wellbeing of the
people from whom they derive their power. This is the beginning of
something wonderful in Virginia."

Halifax Town Council member Jack Dunavant said of the decision, "This
is an historic vote. We, the people, intend to protect our health and
environment from corporate assault. It's time to invoke the
Constitution and acknowledge the power of the people to protect our
own destiny and end this era of corporate greed and pollution."


The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, located in
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, has worked with communities resisting
corporate assaults upon democratic self-governance since 1995. Among
other programs, it has brought its unique Daniel Pennock Democracy
Schools to communities in 26 states in which people seek to end
destructive and rights-denying corporate acts routinely permitted by
state and federal agencies. In Pennsylvania alone, more than 100
municipalities have enacted ordinances authored by the Legal Defense