NStar spraying sparks proposed amendment by Provincetown resident


Dr. Brian O’Malley, Provincetown’s delegate to the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates, wants to add a bill of rights to the county home rule charter that would help residents protect the environment. Banner file photo/Guadazno



Dr. Brian O’Malley, Provincetown’s delegate to the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates, wants to add a bill of rights to the county home rule charter that would help residents protect the environment. Banner file photo/Guadazno


By Peter J. Brown

Provincetown Banner

Feb. 20, 2016

PROVINCETOWN — NStar’s ongoing practice of spraying herbicides along its rights of way has resulted in an effort to change county government so that the rights of communities will be protected.
      
Dr. Brian O’Malley, Provincetown’s delegate to the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates, introduced a proposed amendment to the county’s home rule charter on Jan. 6.
O’Malley has worded the amendment as a “Barnstable County Bill of Rights.” The amendment is necessary, O’Malley writes in the proposed ordinance, “in order to protect and defend economic, environmental and social justice in our communities, and to secure our natural rights as asserted by the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

      
O’Malley told the Provincetown Board of Selectmen last Thursday that he is proceeding with the amendment because the document includes wording that will protect the environment and is aimed at any potential source of pollution — not just NStar. It defines a right to clean water and a right to control and limit toxins, poisons and radiation in the environment, among other things.
“We learned about the successful home-rule charter amendments which, in counties across the U.S., have stopped factory farming, waste-disposal, hydro-fracking, water extraction, mining and the like,” he said, adding that the action was motivated because the 15 Cape towns repeatedly petitioned NStar to stop spraying herbicides with no result.
      

“Besides sustainable clean drinking water, by inclusion in our Home Rule Charter, we gain the legal standing to protect our rights to a clean local food system, and sustainable energy resources,” said O’Malley.
 The amendment includes the “Right to Self-Governance,” which states that towns in Barnstable County have the right to “enact local laws protecting health, safety, and welfare by establishing the fundamental rights of the natural persons, their communities, or nature.”
It further includes the articles “We the people as sovereign”; “Right to Constitutional protection in the workplace, in public spaces, and in privately-owned public spaced”; “Right of interdependent natural communities”; “Right to clean drinking water”; “Right to a sustainable local food system”; “Right to develop renewable energy resources” and “Enforcement by Barnstable County or any resident through an action in equity.”

      
These give Barnstable County legal standing, O’Malley said, but also speaks of the need to act on behalf of “our biosphere” along with the need “to provide an unpolluted, clean, non-toxic and sustainable environment,” the document says.
      

A two-thirds majority vote is required to approve the amendment, and O’Malley said by e-mail on Friday that he expects a hearing will be scheduled for March. “Community support is encouraged,” he wrote.



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