Thomas Linzey and Mari Margil: The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
What do you do if an oil company wants to frack in your village, or an agri-corporation wants to set up a pig feedlot (or a salmon feedlot) next to your property? What legal right do you have to object?
Almost none. And your community probably has no right to object either. If the state or the province approves, the corporation is entitled to proceed.
Enter the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) – a non-profit, public interest law firm providing free and affordable legal services for communities facing threats to their local environment. CELDF has assisted more than 110 local governments in the US and Canada, as well as the governments of Nepal, India, and Ecuador. It was a founding member of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, and a co-author of the Universal Declaration for the Rights of Mother Earth.
Thomas Linzey is the organization’s visionary co-founder and Executive Director, and Mari Margil is its Associate Director, and they're our newest Green Interviews. Their approach – learned over many years – is to assist communities in passing legally binding laws asserting their right to local self-government, and rejecting unsustainable economic and environmental decisions made by state, provincial and federal governments. Among the municipalities that now protect the environmental rights of citizens through municipal ordinances are Pittsburgh, PA and Santa Monica, CA. More than 100 communities have now adopted CELDF-drafted ordinances.
CELDF's other major instrument is the Daniel Pennock Democracy Schools, weekend workshops designed to train grassroots community leaders to resist the infliction of corporate harms on their communities by achieving real democracy at the local level. CELDF has taught nearly 200 Democracy Schools across the U.S and Canada.