Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wells, Maine, residents vote this weekend on local versus corporate power

A lot of media attention has been directed at the town of Wells, Maine, this week, in anticipation of a vote on a groundbreaking rights-based ordinance, designed to protect the town's groundwater, as well as the wider environment, by putting water in public trust and stripping corporations of constitutional rights within town borders.

"Water is essential for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," according to the Wells Water Rights and Local Self Government Ordinance--and the life and health of the environment is ranked as high as that of town residents. The ordinance bars corporate water withdrawals, and allows any town resident to seek legal damages for damage to the ecosystem.

Nestle's Poland Springs division, which unsuccessfully tried to get the local water district to allow them to pump water from a local river last summer, has been running radio spots urging town residents to vote against the ordinance at Saturday's town meeting. The town attorney and Chamber of Commerce have also come out against the ordinance.

In a recent story on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, Defending Water for Life organizer Emily Posner defended the ordinance and the thinking behind it: "This type of approach is reflective of a paradigm change that's happening in our society and our culture around how we want to interface with the economy and the environment and the future," she said. "We're seeing people moving away from big box stores and trying to revitalize their local economy, and this is a similar type of approach that's happening through the political sphere, where we're trying to re-localize our political infastructure so that we as communities have the right to decide what will actually happen within our town borders."

In addition to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network story, you can read coverage in the Portland Press-Herald here, on our headline blog.

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