People’s Bill of Rights (1986)
I recently came across the People’s Bill of Rights in my files. Drafted by the Citizens Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste (CCHW), CCHW was formed by Lois Gibbs and other citizens during the Love Canal debacle, relocation of households, and decades long Superfund cleanup. CCHW, now known as the Center for Health, Environment & Justice, conceived of the People’s Bill during the significant historical period of the 1986 Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act, which placed an emphasis on community right to know of environmental releases of toxic and hazardous substances. The Bill predates scholarly and popular discussions of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration (1992), and to a certain extent, widespread acknowledgement and linking of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to environmental information and political participation in the United States.
A snippet from the People’s Bill claims several rights that are at their core, anti-secrecy:
RIGHT TO KNOW. We have the right to know what poisons other people, industry, corporate polluters, and government have decided to bring into our neighborhoods and workplaces and the right to know how these chemicals can adversely affect our health, our environment and exactly what they intend, if anything, to do about it.
RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE. We have the right to participate, as equals, in decisions affecting our lives, children, homes, and jobs on the matter of exposure to hazardous wastes. We have the right of access, without cost, to information and assistance that will make our participation meaningful and to have our needs and concerns be the major factor in all policy decisions.
I couldn’t locate this important document on the Net, so I scanned it for posterity here.