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Gazette: A potential gas well at St. Sava's has residents and officials on edge
by John BensonGazette
April 24th, 2013
Bass Energy intiates plans for drilling within Broadview Heights, and comes up against the city's Community Bill of Rights, which was adopted by residents in November 2012.
The Bottom Line: Fracking up the Environment: Organization Urges Public to Ban Hydraulic Fracturing in California
by Kyle SkinnerThe Bottom Line
April 24th, 2013
CELDF's Ben Price, Global Exchange's Shannon Biggs, and former Pittsburgh City Councilman Doug Shields partner in "California Communities Rising Against Fracking Tour." Their most recent stop: Santa Barbara.
Shalefields Grassroots Reporter: It's Time for Communities to Ban Shale Gas Drilling en Masse
by Braden CrooksShalefields Grassroots Reporter
April 19th, 2013
Braden Crooks, founder of Groundswell in State College, PA, writes about what it takes to assert Community Rights to protect communities from fracking and create a sustainable energy future.
Huffington Post: Heroic Women: Judge Debbie O'Dell-Seneca
by Alexia ParksHuffington Post
April 18th, 2013
The Huffington Post celebrates Judge O'Dell-Seneca's historic ruling that corporations are not "persons" and recognizes CELDF's work.
weareCentralPA.com: Proposed Pipeline Fight Still On
by Mallory LaneweareCentralPA.com
April 15th, 2013
STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - What started as a fight to stop a pipeline, is now a fight for community rights....Sunday, nearly 40 people living in the State College borough came together to talk about their next move, and to determine how to make their voices heard, again.
Truthout: Pennsylvania Court Deals Blow to Secrecy-Obsessed Fracking Industry
by Steven RosenfeldTruthout
April 15th, 2013
A Pennsylvania judge in the heart of the Keystone State’s fracking belt has issued a forceful and precedent-setting decision holding that there is no corporate right to privacy under that state’s constitution....CELDF's Thomas Linzey says “The ruling represents the first crack in the judicial armor that has been so meticulously welded together by major corporations."
Centre Daily Times: Community members talk bill of rights, possible future plans for pipeline opposition
by Matt MorganCentre Daily Times
April 15th, 2013
State College, PA residents gather to determine next steps in leveraging their Community Bill of Rights to protect the community from a Columbia Gas pipeline coming through the borough.
Centre Daily Times: Borough pipeline project remains in legal limbo
by Jessica VanderkolkCentre Daily Times
April 13th, 2013
State College, PA residents turn to their Community Bill of Rights as grounds to stop a proposed natural gas pipeline running through the borough. The Bill of Rights, adopted overwhelmingly by residents in November 2011, includes a right to a sustainable energy future, and specifically prohibits gas pipelines.
The Spokesman-Review: Group hopes to place initiatives on city ballot
by Jonathan BruntThe Spokesman-Review
April 12th, 2013
CELDF's partner, Envision Spokane, submits more than enough signatures to place a Community Bill of Rights ordinance on the ballot in November. A similar initiative received more than 49% of the vote in 2011.
Global Exchange's People to People Blog: Legalizing Sustainability? Santa Monica Recognizes Rights of Nature
by Shannon BiggsGlobal Exchange
April 11th, 2013
Santa Monica, CA is the first in the state to recognize Rights of Nature.
Centre Daily Times: In State College, it’s not just about the pipeline’s path
by Thomas LinzeyCentre Daily Times
April 11th, 2013
CELDF's Executive Director Thomas Linzey's Op-Ed in the Centre Daily Times: This is about borough residents' community right to a sustainable energy future, included in a Community Bill of Rights amendment to their Home Rule charter in 2011. Overwhelmingly supported by citizens, now it's time to enforce it.
Voices of Central PA: Monday Morning Pipeline News
by Katherine WattVoices of Central PA
April 9th, 2013
State College residents are facing a gas pipeline running through their community. Resident Katherine Watt urges City Council to recognize this issue is about community rights to protect their own health, safety, and welfare, as asserted in their Home Rule Charter amendment establishing a Community Bill of Rights.
Centre Daily Times:State College residents request bill of rights consideration
by Jessica VanderKolkCentre Daily Times
April 8th, 2013
State College, PA residents insist borough City Council enforce Bill of Rights charter amendment to protect community members from proposed gas line. The Community Bill of Rights was adopted in November 2011 by 72% of voters.
Bangor Daily News: East-West highway opponents, others learn tactics to block corporate developments
by Alex BarberBangor Daily News
April 8th, 2013
GUILFORD, Maine — A group of residents from 13 local communities gathered to learn about community-based rights over the weekend. The New Hampshire-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund led a democracy school in Dexter on Friday and Saturday and then a workshop in Guilford on Sunday, which was attended by about 60 people. “The work that we do is to assist communities as they exercise and assert their rights to self government,” said Gail Darrell, New England Community Organizer for the CELDF. “They learned the history of our governmental system, and from that history, they gathered knowledge in order to assert their rights locally.”
Centre Daily Times: State College won’t issue pipeline permit
by Jessica VanderkolkCentre Daily Times
April 3rd, 2013
STATE COLLEGE — The borough manager will not issue any permits for the construction of a natural gas pipeline planned to extend two miles under borough streets to reach Penn State’s West Campus steam plant. The decision comes at the direction of the Borough Council which, after a four-hour public discussion on the Columbia Gas project Monday night, unanimously approved a resolution directing the manager “not to approve any permit allowing construction of the proposed pipeline.”...[R]esidents [brought up] the environmental bill of rights added to the borough’s home rule charter by referendum in 2011. In part, it prohibits pipelines and other fossil fuel facilities “that would violate the right to a sustainable future” for the borough.
CELDF - A New Civil Rights Movement: Liberating Our Communities from Corporate Control
by Thomas Linzey, Esq, Executive DirectorCELDF
March 28th, 2013
Last week, a Pennsylvania county court gave this new [Civil Rights] movement a boost – declaring that corporations are not “persons” under the Pennsylvania Constitution, and therefore, that corporations cannot elevate their “private rights” above the rights of people. The ruling was delivered in a case...[to] release a sealed settlement agreement between a family claiming to be affected by water contamination from gas fracking, and Range Resources....In a landmark ruling, President Judge Debbie O’Dell-Seneca of the Washington County Court of Common Pleas denied the corporation’s request on the basis that the Pennsylvania Constitution only protects the rights of people, not business entities.
Groundswell: PSU Pipeline Violates Community Bill of Rights
Groundswell
March 21st, 2013
Penn State’s plan to convert its campus power plant to natural gas has crashed head-on into the rights of the citizens of State College, PA, as enumerated in Article XI of their borough charter. The plan to feed this power plant with fossil fuels, which sits on the boundary of Penn State’s main campus and downtown State College, calls for a high-pressure gas pipeline snaking through residential neighborhoods and past local businesses. The citizens of State College, together with citizens of neighboring Ferguson Township, have risen up against it.
Press Release: Thornton, New Hampshire Rejects Community Bill of Rights To Ban Land Acquisition for Unsustainable Energy Systems
by CELDF
March 16th, 2013
Saturday, residents at Town Meeting in Thornton, New Hampshire (Population 1,800) rejected an ordinance to establish a Community Bill of Rights and prohibit corporations from engaging “in land acquisition necessary for the siting or construction of unsustainable energy systems” by a vote of 57:21. The ordinance would have recognized rights to pure water, clean air, a sustainable energy future, a “fundamental and inalienable right to protect and preserve the scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the town,” and that the people of Thornton at all times enjoy and retain “an inalienable and indefeasible right to self-governance in the community where they reside.”...The Thornton selectmen were advised not to support the ordinance by the town lawyer.
Colorado Springs Independent: Community activists seek charter change to ban fracking
by Chet HardinColorado Springs Independent
March 15th, 2013
The environmental activists with Colorado Springs Citizens for Community Rights have begun the process of placing a charter amendment banning fracking within city limits on this coming November ballot. "We have what we think is pretty darned good," says Dave Gardner of the charter amendment, "and we have the process underway."...CSCCR filed their intent to circulate a petition with the City Clerk's office on March 5. He says that they have been talking with other activists across the state and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.
Press Release: Grafton, NH Adopts Community Bill of Rights That Bans Land Acquisition for Unsustainable Energy Systems
by CELDF
March 13th, 2013
(March 12, 2013) Tuesday night residents at Town Meeting in Grafton, New Hampshire adopted an ordinance that establishes a community Bill of Rights and prohibits corporations “to engage in land acquisition necessary for the siting or construction of unsustainable energy systems”. The vote was 255:252....When concerned Grafton residents heard about an industrial wind proposal by the Spanish company, Iberdrola, to site turbines along the Cardigan and the Orange Mountain ridgelines in Grafton County that is being called the Wild Meadows project, they called CELDF and asked for help. Alarmed by the rate at which the state was approving industrial wind projects in New Hampshire, town residents wasted no time in drafting the language for their Community Bill of Rights with help from CELDF and holding several informational meetings to educate local townspeople.
Truthout: An Addition to the Climate Movement-Civil Disobedience Toolkit
by Simon Davis-CohenTruthout
March 11th, 2013
Civil disobedience is the conscious refusal to obey an unjust law. Rosa Parks performed this form of civil disobedience when she refused to give up her seat. She broke the unjust law that she wanted to change. The 48 leaders who want to change the laws that privilege oil and gas corporations to extract, transport and sell North American fossil fuel were arrested for blocking a throughway in front of the White House....Should an American community elevate its community right to democratically protect its health, safety and welfare above the legal privileges that permit corporate oil and gas extraction and transportation, the community would confront the body of law that the climate movement is trying to change. Such action would introduce novel rights into America's legal structure, just as the civil rights movement did, and expose the fact that under current law exercising these rights is illegal.
WABI-TV5: Citizens and Activists Learn About U.S. Government System
by WABI-TV5 News DeskWABI-TV5
March 8th, 2013
Dover-Foxcroft - Concerned citizens and activists had a chance to learn more about the United States government system. The Daniel Pennock Democracy School was held at the Congregational Church in Dover-Foxcroft earlier this week. This was the third time the course has been taught in the area by members of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. "Folks come here to learn about the legal structure. How it's set up and what they can to do to actually take local democracy back and actually make those decisions for themselves"
Read the Dirt: The Story of Broadview Heights, Ohio
by Tish O'DellRead the Dirt
March 2nd, 2013
This is the story of my hometown, Broadview Heights, Ohio. It is a small, residential suburb just 11 miles south of Cleveland. We’ve got 20,000 residents and span 13 square miles, but new neighbors are moving in; 90 gas/oil wells now dot our town....Nothing else seemed to be [stopping the drilling], so after a lot of discussion we decided to pursue the idea of a Community Bill of Rights....Since our local government refused to protect us in any way, we had to do it ourselves.
Allegheny Defense Project: Property Rights Meet Natural Rights in Land Protection
by Matt PetersAllegheny Defense Project
February 28th, 2013
JEFFERSON COUNTY-- A Pennsylvania farmer is pioneering the art of land preservation, in a unique application of a conservation easement on the property deed of his organic farm. By establishing certain deed restrictions and creating a Rights of Nature constitutional document, J. Stephen Cleghorn of Paradise Gardens and Farm has become the first farmer in the state to protect his land for all time using this method. Cleghorn established the easement in memory of his late wife, Dr. Lucinda Hart-González who died of lung cancer on November 14, 2011. On May 10 of 2012 Ms. Hart-González's ashes were scattered on the property and the farm was declared forever inviolate and off-limits to shale gas fracking. The easement is dated as of the first anniversary of her death. The easement was created with the help of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), a nonprofit, Pennsylvania-based law firm.
Eugene Weekly: Local Laws: How communities can fight corporations
by Camilla MortensenEugene Weekly
February 28th, 2013
“We are screwed in all kinds of senses if we keep doing what we’re doing and don’t change course,” says Thomas Linzey, executive director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF)....CELDF, which started off as a free and affordable public interest law firm in Pennsylvania but now works across the U.S. and abroad, believes that a right to self-government has to be asserted in the local communities that are facing the environmental impacts....Local governments should be able to reject unsustainable economic and environmental policies set by state and federal governments, CELDF says. But giving a small town the right to tell a multinational corporation that it can’t come in and frack natural gas wells, start a massive pig farm or put in a uranium mine isn’t easy. It’s not even legal.
Greenwire: NEW MEXICO: More counties craft drilling rules amid uptick in exploration
by April ReeseGreenwire
February 27th, 2013
Over the past few years, oil and gas companies have taken an interest in new areas of New Mexico that may contain untapped reserves. But environmental groups and some residents fear that if those leases are developed, drilling could foul increasingly coveted water resources amid a punishing drought and fragment wildlife habitat in some of the most picturesque places in the state....Last summer, drilling critics formed the New Mexico Coalition for Community Rights...It's part of a larger, national effort spearheaded by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund to get ordinances in place across the country that assert the rights of communities over the rights of corporations...
The Athens New: When it comes to frack ban, candidates agree
by David DeWittThe Athens News
February 24th, 2013
All five candidates in the Democratic primary for City Council's three at-large seats expressed support over the weekend for the efforts of the local Bill of Rights Committee to ban horizontal hydraulic fracturing in Athens and potentially in the watershed that supplies drinking water to Athens. The group is working to put the proposal on the November ballot as a citizens' initiative. They had asked City Council to put it on the ballot through a referendum, but decided recently to go with a petition-driven initiative instead. Furthermore, the primary candidates all said they would like to see partnerships with other communities in the Hocking River watershed (upstream from Athens) to protect the aquifer. The Bill of Rights Committee's proposal includes language aimed at holding oil-and-gas companies accountable for pollution of the Hocking River Valley up to 20 miles upstream.
The Vindicator: Fracking-ban amendment for Youngstown head to May ballot
The Vindicator
February 20th, 2013
YOUNGSTOWN — Despite questions about whether a citizen-organized charter-amendment proposal to ban fracking in Youngstown is enforceable, city council members applauded the work by those behind the initiative. Council approved an ordinance tonight to place the proposal on the May 7 primary election ballot....Frack Free Mahoning Valley, the group behind the petitions, has about 4,000 signatures. The group needs 1,562 valid signatures to be placed in front of voters....The proposal includes language that would make it illegal to drill for gas and oil in the city.
The Vindicator: Youngstown council will approve a fracking charter amendment
The Vindicator
February 20th, 2013
YOUNGSTOWN Even though some of its members don’t agree with a citizen-organized charter-amendment proposal to ban fracking in Youngstown and the law director contends it isn’t enforceable, city council is expected today to approve an ordinance to place the initiative on the May 7 ballot....Members of Frack Free Mahoning Valley, the organization behind the petitions, has about 3,800 to 4,000 signatures on petitions. The group needs 1,562 valid signatures to get the issue on the May ballot. Lynn Anderson, one of citizens involved in the petition process, said Farris “doesn’t understand” the ballot proposal. “It’s written to circumvent state law,” she said. “It’s like starting over,” comparing what the group calls a “community bill of rights” to the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
The Kane Republican: Letter to the editor - Banning Depositing Waste from Shale Gas Drilling
by William J. GrancheThe Kane Republican
February 19th, 2013
A few weeks ago the headline read, "James City injection well plans on track," and this in the face of the Elk County commissioners who unanimously rejected the proposal due to the inherent dangers of contamination and health threats to the people....The township supervisors of James City approved an ordinance meant to protect their own "pursuit of happiness."...The ordinance bans the depositing of waste from the extraction of shale gas....Seneca Resources...plans to ignore concerns of the people and impose their will.
Ecowatch: Ban Fracking Campaign, from Ireland to New Mexico
by Kathleen DudleyEcowatch
February 19th, 2013
A number of local grassroots groups fighting fracking in New Mexico are launching a billboard and yard sign campaign. Citizens from the New Mexico Coalition for Community Rights, Drilling Mora County, and Committee for Clean Water, Air and Earth completed the Water, Not Fracking, Community Rights for Mora and San Miguel Counties yard sign and billboard campaign this month. Today citizens are installing graphic Coca Cola red and white cows with strong pronouncements that industry is not welcome to frack their counties. Joining in solidarity with the work of citizens in Ireland, people in New Mexico are getting the message out that they do indeed have the rights to protect their communities from industry’s assaults against their pristine rural agricultural towns.
Read the Dirt: Democracy Denied in Small Town, USA
by Molly BrownRead the Dirt
February 17th, 2013
I live in the beautiful small town of Mt. Shasta (population 3,500) in far northern California. The town is nestled at the base of Mount Shasta, a 14,170-foot volcano that last erupted some 500 years ago. The town is surrounded by mountains and forests, high mountain lakes are scattered throughout. The headwaters of the mighty Sacramento River flow out of a spring in our City Park. In short, I live in paradise, and along with many other citizens of South Siskiyou County, I want to preserve it for generations to come. A year and a half ago, a friend asked me to attend a meeting of a group promoting a citizen initiative called the Mt. Shasta Community Water Rights and Self-Government Ordinance....I knew that this group had formed in response to a cloud seeding program that PG&E, a California public utilities corporation, was proposing nearby. PG&E wanted to cloud-seed in hopes of artificially forcing clouds to rain upstream of their hydroelectric dams.
The Athens News:Fracking ban skips council, may go to voters
by David DeWittThe Athens News
February 17th, 2013
A group of citizens looking to ban a controversial type of deep-shale drilling and related activities in a 20-mile radius around the city of Athens say they'll take the matter directly to residents with a ballot initiative this November....The [Bill of Rights Committee]'s proposal, [Resident Dick] McGinn has said, was drawn up with the assistance of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. This is a non-profit law firm "providing free and affordable legal services to communities facing threats to their local environment, local agriculture, the local economy, and quality of life," according to its website. McGinn said that his group is meeting with the CELD[F] this week to draw up plans for the petition effort.
SNL Financial: Seneca Resources considers response to Pa. town's wastewater injection well ban
by Mark HandSNL Financial
February 15th, 2013
Pennsylvania state lawmakers and regulators have tried to maintain a friendly relationship with the shale gas industry. But officials in some municipalities are working from a different script than their colleagues at the state level. In the northwestern part of the state, for example, Seneca Resources Corp. has run into a snag in its plans to drill a hydraulic fracturing wastewater disposal injection well in Highland Township, Pa., a municipality in an area where the company has active natural gas drilling operations....In January, Highland Township supervisors passed a community rights ordinance that essentially banned the planned injection well....In the summer of 2012, Highland Township approached the CELDF, a public interest law firm based in Mercersburg, Pa., over concerns about the planned introduction of fracking waste disposal injection wells, according to Ben Price, projects director for the CELDF. "The supervisors adopted a community bill of rights [drafted by the CELDF], asserting the right to clean air, pure water, healthy environment, rights of nature, right to local self-government, and they banned those injection wells," he said in an interview earlier this month.
Las Vegas Optic: Drilling advocates take aim: Funding, local authority to regulate industry targeted
by Martin SalazarLas Vegas Optic
February 14th, 2013
Powerful supporters of the oil and gas industry have taken off their gloves, mounting a multi-faceted offensive against cities and counties that have been stifling drilling activities. Several state representatives have signed a letter to Gov. Susana Martinez that one environmental activist likened to a veiled blackmail threat. The letter effectively asks the governor to think twice before approving capital outlay requests from communities that restrict “extractive industries” like oil and gas given that a significant portion of capital outlay funds are generated from drilling and mining activities in the state.
The Athens News: Drilling opponents go to town (hall) on fracking
by David DeWittThe Athens News
February 13th, 2013
Athens residents had an airing of grievances Tuesday night, or perhaps a championing of causes in another respect, during a Town Hall meeting at the Athens Community Center....Various members of the Athens-based Bill of Rights Committee (BORC) also spoke at the Town Hall about their desire to get a voter referendum on the November ballot that would seek to ban fracking in a 20-mile radius around the city...."The practical effort of the proposed initiative would be to prohibit industrial practices associated with the implementation of deep-shale horizontal fracking methods within the shallow aquifer," [BORC member Robert Wiley] said.
State Impact: Pa. Communities Craft Creative Escape Hatch from Drilling Law
by Susan PhillipsState Impact
February 13th, 2013
While the Pennsylvania Supreme Court continues to deliberate the constitutionality of restrictions to local, Marcellus Shale, zoning regulations in the state’s new drilling law, a handful of communities across the Commonwealth are trying a unique approach to keep the industry away. “Community Bill of Rights” ordinances have been adopted by cities as large as Pittsburgh to ban fracking, and as small as Highland Township, Elk County, to prevent an underground wastewater injection well. About 500 people live in Highland Township, a forested, rural area near the Allegheny National Forest in the northwestern part of the state. In January, Highland Township Supervisors passed the “Highland Township’s Community Rights and Protection from Injection Wells Ordinance,” essentially banning a planned injection well proposed by Seneca Resources....The ordinance was drafted with help from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund....
ecotrust: Community rights movement gaining steam
by Spencer Beebeecotrust
February 13th, 2013
As the swing states of Pennsylvania and Ohio decided the White House race this fall, another drama — perhaps of greater long-term importance — was playing out on the ground on election day, well below the national media radar. Communities in those two states, joining a growing number across the country, cast a vote for self-determination, by passing local laws that establish inalienable rights of nature and the community, and ban dangerous practices such as hydraulic fracturing for shale gas.It’s part of a growing nationwide movement, inspired and encouraged by a little-known, forward-thinking Pennsylvania-based group called the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. The aim is to reverse the national trend in which individuals and companies legally degrade the clean water, soil, air and broader ecosystems that people and communities depend on everywhere. “It’s really about elevating the rights of people and communities and nature above those of commerce and corporations,” says Mari Margil, CELDF’s associate director.
SNL Financial: Law firm facing little resistance to community rights-based bans on fracking
by Mark HandSNL Financial
February 8th, 2013
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is still pitching a perfect game. The public interest law firm has not been hit with an official legal challenge to one of the many "bills of rights" it has drafted for towns whose residents want to keep shale gas drilling out of their communities....The ordinances drafted by the CELDF for Ferguson Township and other communities are rights-based, making them different, for example, from the ordinances adopted in dozens of New York municipalities, including the towns of Dryden and Middlefield, N.Y., which banned hydraulic fracturing using traditional planning and zoning approaches. The city of Pittsburgh is the highest-profile municipality to adopt a rights-based anti-fracking ordinance drafted by the CELDF. The next community expected to take up the rights-based mantle, with the help of the CELDF, is Youngstown, Ohio....Industry attorneys are scratching their heads over the CELDF's unique rights-based approach to the issue of environmental protection and community empowerment.
The Business Journal: Petitions Filed for Citizen's Bill of Fracking Rights
by Dan O'BrienThe Business Journal
February 7th, 2013
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – As workers moved into their third day of cleanup at a Mahoning River tributary contaminated because of intentionally dumped brine water and mud from oil and gas drilling operations, activists opposed to the industry delivered what they believe is a clear message to City Hall. "We have the right to drink our water unpolluted," declared Lynn Anderson, a member of FrackFree Mahoning Valley, a group that opposes the practice of hydraulic fracturing. "We have the right to survive." Members of FrackFree Mahoning Valley presented a Citizens' Bill of Rights petition signed by nearly 3,800 residents to the clerk of City Council Wednesday in an effort to place the measure on the ballot during the primary election May 7. "It's about letting the people decide," said Susie Beiersdorfer. "This bill of rights exercises our citizens' inalienable rights to clean air, clean water, and the right to have enjoyment in our homes free from toxic trespass."
Las Vegas Optic: Letter to the Editor: 'We the people' paying the price
by John BishLas Vegas Optic
February 7th, 2013
I am a resident of Las Vegas, a taxpayer and a citizen concerned about the safety of the community. My considerations roam through history, economics and justice....In these times, we the people , who are the wealth of the nation, have been led to believe in the comforts that enterprise and commerce offer, without consideration of the costs of such comforts. We have been sold a belief in Comforts at any Cost. The costs are mounting and more visible, now. The costs have been externalized, and internalized....Some of the people in the county promote the local drilling enterprise so they can “make a killing” in a search for profits. I encourage them and you to consider who, and for how long, you are willing to be killing.
Las Vegas Optic: Letter to the Editor: Why was Mr. Einer's petition denied?
by Judi JeffriesLas Vegas Optic
February 7th, 2013
I just read the informative (Feb. 1) article “Activist sues county clerk”, by Martin Salazar and my first response was, What? How is it possible that the county clerk could stop a petition from moving forward? It is my understanding that she is in the position to review a petition for content and form and nothing more. So, how could Rivera have denied Mr. (Lee) Einer’s petition in the first place? What right did Rivera have to deny him, and by what authority? Mr. Einer had every right to present his petition —Bill of Rights, Home Rule, letting the people decide, great concept — as does every citizen, in my opinion.
Read the Dirt: The View from Plymouth, NH
by Pete MartinRead the Dirt
February 6th, 2013
In the fall of 2010 communities in the north country of NH began hearing about a planned massive power line project titled Northern Pass, to transmit 1200 MW of electricity from hydroelectric dams in Quebec to southern New England. Our state was expected to host this grotesque monument to 19th century technology....[T]he people began to organize and fight...We have pursued two paths; legislative action and the effort to bring Rights-Based ordinances to our communities...[T]hree towns; Plymouth, Easton, and Sugar Hill passed Rights-Based Ordinances through town meetings.
Cross Cut: Why your community needs a bill of rights
by Simon Davis-CohenCross Cut
February 5th, 2013
I just spoke with an old friend in Portland, OR who didn’t know about coal companies’ plans to construct a coal export terminal just north of Bellingham, WA, where I live. The port would be the largest of its kind in North America, expanding coal companies’ capacity to mine coal from public lands in Montana and Wyoming, put it on freight trains, and ship it to Asia....Like him, when I learned about the proposal I wanted to know what I could do to stop it....What we can do...is help to pass Community Bills of Rights across the Pacific Northwest that elevate communities’ rights to democratically decide what happens in their jurisdiction; that protect the human rights of their citizens and the rights of nature above corporations.... You might be thinking this sounds impossible. It’s not. A national legal defense fund, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, has already helped more than 150 communities in eight states to adopt such local laws. Much of this work has taken place in the East and Midwest, but it’s creeping west.
The Vindicator: Fight shapes up over charter amendment
by Jamison CocklinThe Vindicator
February 4th, 2013
Frack Free Mahoning Valley organizers say they are close to gathering enough signatures to place a referendum on the May 7 primary ballot asking voters to ban natural- gas drilling in the city....In October, city council approved legislation to allow the city to solicit offers from companies to lease city-owned land for gas and oil drilling. At the time, activists said they would conduct a petition drive aimed at curbing that activity. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a national public-interest law firm, was enlisted by Frack Free to draw up a charter amendment....[S]ome of its core provisions, if approved, include an outright ban, language to enforce any activity that violates it or natural resources and a stipulation that imposes liabilities on operations in neighboring communities.
Las Vegas Optic: Activist sues county clerk - Latest chapter in oil and gas drilling controversy
by Martin SalazarLas Vegas Optic
January 31st, 2013
An attorney for a local activist who is fighting to keep oil and gas drilling out of San Miguel County has filed suit against County Clerk Melanie Rivera, arguing that her refusal to sign off on a home rule petition is a violation of state law....The home rule petition seeks to force the county to appoint a charter commission to prepare a new charter for the county. Specifically, the petition requests a charter that recognizes a community bill of rights within San Miguel County, that bans the extraction of oil and gas within the county and that elevates the Bill of Rights above rights claimed by corporations operating in the county. The lawsuit is the latest chapter in the ongoing battle over whether to allow oil and gas drilling and fracking in San Miguel County....Einer's efforts are backed by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit, public interest law firm providing legal services to communities thought to be facing a threat to their environment.
Centre Daily Times: Letter to the editor - Voters spoke, but not everyone listened
by Pam StecklerCentre Daily Times
January 30th, 2013
As a concerned resident of Ferguson Township for more than 30 years, I was an active participant in petitioning to get the Community Bill of Rights and fracking ban amended to the Home Rule Charter in order to protect our rights to clean air and water and a healthy environment. The action of the Board of Supervisors to consider filing a declaratory judgment of complaint against our right of self-governance was egregious, intolerable and unjustifiable. The action, at the board’s Jan. 21 meeting, to simply remove the item from the agenda without discussion or resident input on the basis of “legal matters” was business as usual (i.e. no transparency) on the part of the board. The Bill of Rights was passed by a fair and legal process. The voters spoke. If the board is unwilling to enforce the will of its own electorate by attempting to nullify the amendment, its members should feel free to step down.
Read the Dirt: Benton County's Fight to Protect Our Seed Heritage: A Food Bill of Rights
by Clinton LindseyRead the Dirt
January 27th, 2013
Benton County is in the heart of the Willamette Valley – a lush, fertile valley in western Oregon. Here in the Willamette Valley we are blessed with a climate that allows us to grow over 270 varieties of edible plants....[We have] a vibrant local food system that many farmers and citizens have spent their lives building....This system is now under attack from corporate agricultural interests who seek to turn our valley into a breeding ground for their patented seeds, and the chemicals that go with them....[A] small group of folks started meeting...to work on an ordinance for Benton County that would effectively ban GMO agriculture and remove the rights of corporations that conflict with the enforceability of the ordinance.
Eugene Weekly: Banning GMOs - The New Civil Rights Movement
by Kai HuschkeEugene Weekly
January 24th, 2013
As the fight over genetically modified canola and other GM crops escalates in the Willamette Valley, a group of farmers and neighbors in Benton County have spent the past year talking about how to stop GMOs. They’ve asked the question that people across the country ask when faced with corporate threats — such as GMOs, fracking or water privatization — how do we say no?...[T]he problem isn’t GMOs, but the system of law that enables corporations to impose GMOs upon our communities without our consent. If we’re to stop GMOs, we need to change the system itself.... We’re not the first to strive for structural change. When the Abolitionists looked out at the constitutional landscape, slaves were invisible to the law — much in the way our communities are today....Understanding that without challenging the system of law itself they cannot stop GMOs, [folks in Benton County] drafted a “Food Bill of Rights” law that establishes a “right to sustainable food systems” for the community, and prohibits those activities — like the planting of GMOs — that would violate that right.
Read the Dirt: Fighting for the Right to a Sustainable Food System: Benton County, Oregon
by Dana AllenRead the Dirt
January 17th, 2013
The Benton County Community Rights Coalition is working to qualify an ordinance for the ballot that elevates the community’s rights over corporate “rights” and state preemption in their county. The ordinance asserts the community’s right to a sustainable food system, seed heritage, and the inalienable rights of nature to exist, persist and flourish. If passed by a vote of the county citizens, it would ban GMO’s as a violation of these rights. Dana Allen, one of three founding members and chief petitioner, shares with us a sneak peak at what Benton County has been running up against as they go through the process of getting their initiative through the system.
The Nation: Rebel Towns
by Barry YeomanThe Nation
January 16th, 2013
Sugar Hill, [New Hampshire] became one of dozens of communities nationwide…that have reacted to environmental threats by directly challenging the Constitution and established case law. The leading champion of this confrontational strategy… attorney Thomas Linzey....[who] runs the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a Pennsylvania nonprofit that advocates for local self-government and the rights of nature. CELDF comes into threatened communities, educates residents about US legal history, and trains them to advocate for “rights-based ordinances” like Sugar Hill’s. About thirty municipalities in [9 states] have enacted such measures, according to Linzey, following an earlier round of over 100 more modest laws. CELDF’s organizers have helped citizens fight frackers, coal companies, factory farms, big-box stores, water bottlers and sewage-sludge dumpers. They’ve campaigned to overhaul the city charter in Spokane, Washington. And they aided the successful effort to confer rights on nature in Ecuador’s 2008 Constitution.
Public Herald: Just Say ‘No’ — Locals Ban Frack Waste in Pa.
by Melissa TroutmanPublic Herald
January 14th, 2013
On January 9, 2013, in otherwise quiet Highland Township in Elk County, Pennsylvania, officials signed a community rights bill into law stopping the deposit of fracking waste within the township. Seneca Resources...had planned to inject its “production fluids” (oil and gas drilling and fracking waste) into an injection well about 2,200 feet from Crystal Springs....Injection wells have a history, both long and recent, of failing ....So, residents of Highland Township asked their municipal officials to say “No.”...Highland Township is the latest on a list of over 140 other communities that have said ‘no’ to factory farms, waste incinerators, corporate water withdrawals, and now fracking by passing rights-based ordinances....Rights-based ordinances are simple but formal, and they’ve been penned with the help of Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF).
WOUB Public Media: New Group Calls Water Protection From Fracking A 'Civil Rights Issue'
by Bethany VenableWOBU Public Media
January 11th, 2013
A newly-formed activist group wants Athens City Council members to pass an ordinance banning fracking in order to protect the area's watershed. Group organizer Richard McGinn says the group...goes by the Athens Community Bill of Rights Committee.It only just formed in November, but the group is already making plans to involve city leaders in their fight. McGinn says the committee focuses on protecting air and water quality as a matter of civil rights.
The Corvallis Advocate: Willamette Valley Takes on GMOs… Maybe. But Are They Just Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing?
by Genevieve WeberThe Corvallis Advocate
January 10th, 2013
Organic farmers within the Benton County Community Rights Coalition (BCCRC) are attempting to place an initiative, a comprehensive Food Bill of Rights banning GM crops in all of Benton County, on the May ballot. The goal of the BCCRC is to provide local non-GM crops with guaranteed protection from the potential threat of contamination by transgenes....“What people are doing is saying, ‘We have the right to say whether this goes on or not,’” said Sunbow Farms’ Harry MacCormack, a BCCRC member and a Chief Petitioner on the initiative. MacCormack is one of the original founders of Oregon Tilth, which laid the foundation for the USDA’s modern organic certification requirements. “At BCCRC we’re trying to re-direct peoples’ thinking away from this mode of, ‘We can’t do anything,’” he continued. “People do have power.”
The Kane Republican: Highland supervisors OK law on drilling waste
by Ted LutzThe Kane Republican
January 10th, 2013
Highland Township now has an ordinance that bans deposits from the drilling of Marcellus Shale natural gas wells. Township Supervisors Charlie Vaughn and Paul Burton St. [sic] agreed Wednesday to adopt the ordinance, which is seen as a way to stop Seneca Resources from disposing of "produced water".... A township "citizens group" previously called for the supervisors to enact the ordinance. The law is based on an ordinance that reportedly has been adopted in other municipalities in the state as an environmental-protection type measure to establish "a Bill of Rights." The ordinance, in part, claims that the "injection" of waste from Marcellus Shale wells would "pose a significant threat" to the "health, safety and welfare" of township residents.
Press Release: Highland Township, PA Adopts Community Bill of Rights that Bans Toxic Injection Wells
by CELDF
January 9th, 2013
This evening, the Board of Supervisors of Highland Township in Elk County, Pennsylvania, unanimously adopted an ordinance that establishes a community Bill of Rights, and forbids corporations “to deposit, store. ‘treat,’ inject or process waste water, ‘produced water,’ ‘frack’ water, brine or other materials, chemicals or by-products that have been used in the extraction of shale gas onto or into the land, air, or waters within Highland Township.” This prohibition specifically applies to disposal injection wells. The ordinance recognizes rights to pure water, clean air, a sustainable energy future, the recognition that the people of Highland at all times enjoy and retain “an inalienable and indefeasible right to self-governance in the community where they reside.” It also recognizes natural communities and ecosystems to have “inalienable and fundamental rights to exist and flourish within Highland Township,”...
Read the Dirt: Rivers and Natural Ecosystems as Rights Bearing Subjects
by Robin Milam, Global Alliance for the Rights of NatureRead the Dirt
January 7th, 2013
Granting legal standing to natural ecosystems is not isolated [to New Zealand and Ecuador]....Recognizing Rights of Nature and natural ecosystems is the focus of a global grassroots movement....The premise of recognizing Rights of Nature has been advanced for decades through the writings of Thomas Berry, Cormac Cullinan, Christopher Stone and others. Nonetheless, nature as a rights bearing subject of the law took root in 2006 in the small rural community of Tamaqua Borough, Pennsylvania, USA. In less than a decade almost three dozen communities in the United States have passed local laws that recognize Rights of Nature.
Read the Dirt: Case Study: The Community Right to Sustainable Energy
by Campbell McLaren & Kris PastorizaRead the Dirt
January 5th, 2013
We first heard about the proposed Northern Pass Project on the day of a meeting between representatives of the project and the selectmen of the adjoining town of Franconia, NH. The project plans to acquire 40 miles of new right-of-way in northern New Hampshire and use 140 miles of existing right-of-way in central New Hampshire...to erect a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission line to bring power from Hydro-Quebec to southern New England....[S]several of us in the opposition heard about the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), and their movement to restore local control. We had learned early on that though local residents had to follow local zoning laws, corporations undertaking large enough energy projects came under state control and were not subject to any of our local zoning laws, giving them essentially free rein, despite their talk of “mitigation”. CELDF does not try to win regulatory battles, rather they fight for the rights of localities, through the passage of rights-based ordinances.
EcoWatch: Restoring Democracy in the Fight Against Fracking
by Thomas LinzeyEcoWatch
December 26th, 2012
Same story. Different day. People are threatened by an activity that will injure them, and they work overtime to pass a law that bans the activity. An affected corporation—or industry association—then sues the municipality, contending that the community can’t prohibit what the state allows, and that the ban violates the “rights” of the corporation. The upshot of these machinations is that the municipality then either repeals the ban or is bankrupted trying to defend it. Most likely, the insurance corporation for the municipality brokers a deal in which the municipality agrees not to enforce the ordinance in exchange for the corporation dropping its lawsuit. Day after day, issue after issue, community after community, this machine has been humming along happily (for some) ever since the late 1800’s. All under a structure of law so perfectly constructed that very few understand how it actually works in practice. Under a structure of law that lawyers, law professors, elected officials, judges and established activist organizations call “democracy.”
Read the Dirt: Barnstead, NH: Establishing the Community Right to Water and Self-Governance
by Gail DarrellRead the Dirt
December 24th, 2012
If you were to drive through Barnstead, NH you would not suspect that there was anything special about the people who live here. It’s a typical small town in New Hampshire....When our neighboring town of Nottingham was faced with a water withdrawal that would permit USA Springs, Inc to remove over 300,000 gallons of water a day from the local aquifer, Barnstead saw that its own water was not safe either.
Las Vegas Optic: Letter-to-the-Editor: As For Fracking, Just Say No
by Jesús A. RivasLas Vegas Optic
December 20th, 2012
I have already pointed out four of the misinformation about fracking that Mr. John Bemis [Secretary of Energy, Minerals & Natural Resources Department with 20 years with the oil and gas industry prior], gave out. He also said a fifth misinformation and a veiled threat for those who oppose fracking: Misinformation No. 5: Preventing fracking will violate the rights of the people. Of course the people whose right Mr. Bemis is concerned about are the oil and gas corporations, not the rights of the actual people to have clean water. But let’s consider for a second that the rights of corporations are comparable to the rights of real people. Is the right to make money for a handful of corporations comparable to the rights of 40,000-plus San Miguel and Mora county residents to have clean drinking water ?
The Corvallis Advocate: Area Farmers Challenge County Over Ballot Access
by Genevieve WeberThe Corvallis Advocate
December 6th, 2012
These small area farmers may not have envisioned taking on Benton County’s attorney and the global issue of genetically modified (GMO) crops, but that was before the County said “no” to putting their proposed Food Bill of Rights initiative on the ballot. The group was not allowed to collect signatures, said Harry MacCormack, one of the Chief Petitioners....Organic and conventional farmers have essentially no legal protections from GMO contamination and the economic losses that occur due to legal battles with [Monsanto] corporation and others. Supporters say the Food Bill of Rights ordinance elevates the rights of local citizens and ecosystems, and excludes the planting of GMO crops in Benton County.
The Progress: In Brady, group still fighting against proposed well
by Josh WoodsThe Progress
December 4th, 2012
LUTHERSBURG - The fight against a proposed disposal injection well in Brady Township continued at last night's board of supervisors meeting. Resident Marianne Atkinson spoke on behalf of an overflow crowd who is against locating the well in the Highland Street residential area. Atkinson asked the Board of Supervisors to consider adopting a community bill of rights ordinance to protect the health, safety and welfare of township residents. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund would write the bill of rights ordinance and could defend it in court at no cost to the township, she said. The only costs the township might incur are mileage and court filing fees, she said. "I'm not confident we have anything to present to the Environmental Protection Agency that will stop the injection well," said Atkinson. "It seems like a CELDF ordinance is our best and only hope."
The Athens News: Group wants city to ban fracking in Athens County and beyond
by David DeWittThe Athens News
December 2nd, 2012
Athens City Council last week heard from a new group of citizens opposed to oil-and-gas extraction who proposed a 20-mile fracking ban be adopted by the city as part of a "bill of rights." Speaking during a committee meeting last week, Athens resident Dick McGinn outlined the proposal to City Council on behalf of the Bill of Rights Committee (BORC). The committee, McGinn said, includes himself, Second Ward Council member Jeff Risner, and residents Christine Hughes, Beverly Flanigan, Ed Newman, Milenna Miller, John Howell and Richard Hogan. McGinn said he appeared at City Council to speak to the "dangers that fracking and associated activities pose to the health, safety, happiness and even economic stability" of the Athens community. He said that the committee formed in recent weeks and held its first meeting just before its council appearance. "What we have is a committee to enact a community bill of rights with the aim of banning fracking and associated activities in, at, or near the aquifer that supplies water to the city of Athens," McGinn said.
Press Action: Pa. Farmer's Anti-Fracking Conservation Easement Serves as Model for Other Landowners
Press Action
November 16th, 2012
When Pennsylvania organic farmer Dr. J. Stephen Cleghorn publicly announced plans to create a first-in-the-nation conservation easement on his land, with the aim of preventing hydraulic fracturing, he was hoping his act would encourage others to do the same. It’s been only a few days since Cleghorn made the announcement, and already other landowners have contacted him to learn more about his novel approach to keeping natural gas drillers at bay....“I am imposing here, in partnership with nature and the CELDF, a new protection that will make it impossible for the gas in the shale below us to be drilled because it cannot be done in a way that does not at the very least harm the ecosystems of the deep biosphere where the shale exists and certainly because it is done from the surface, it can harm the ecosystems at the surface, both through air and water pathways and we’re not going to let that happen,” Cleghorn said.
Cleveland.com: Broadview Heights discussing how to enforce new charter amendment
by Robert RozborilCleveland.com
November 14th, 2012
BROADVIEW HEIGHTS - With the passage of Issue 29, the city now must determine the best method for enforcing the new charter amendment, which states that no more oil or gas wells may be drilled in Broadview Heights....With its passage, Broadview Heights is now the second municipality in Ohio to add such an amendment to its charter, banning gas and oil wells that use hydraulic fracturing. Yellow Springs Village became the first when it passed a similar ordinance, drafted by Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, on Oct. 1 this year.
Press Action: Pa. Farmer Bans Fracking on Land through 1st-of-its-Kind Conservation Easement
by Press ActionPress Action
November 10th, 2012
A Pennsylvania farmer has become the first landowner in the United States to use a conservation easement to recognize and protect the rights of water, forests and wild ecosystems. Stephen Cleghorn, who owns a 50-acre organic farm in Jefferson County, Pa., said the easement will ban activities such as hydraulic fracturing and will “elevate the rights of nature above the power claimed by extractive energy corporations to despoil the environment.”...Cleghorn said he hopes other landowners across Pennsylvania, as well as municipal governments, will take action to recognize the rights of communities and nature through both easements and local laws. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, or CELDF, a nonprofit Pennsylvania law firm, worked with Cleghorn to help create the easement, which secures the rights of nature legally on his property.
Midwest Energy News: Ohio city votes to block wastewater injection wells
by Ellen M. GillmerMidwest Energy News
November 8th, 2012
Voters in Mansfield, Ohio, sent a clear message Tuesday that oil and gas wastewater is not welcome in their city. More than 60 percent voted in favor of an “environmental bill of rights” that would essentially give the city license to ban wastewater injection wells — scattered across the Ohio landscape — on grounds that the operations threaten community rights to clean air and water.
CELDF Press Release: Mansfield Voters Adopt Community Rights Charter Amendment That Bans Toxic Injection Wells
by CELDF
November 7th, 2012
By a vote of 62.87% in favor, the people of the City of Mansfield, seat of Richland County in north-central Ohio and home to nearly 48,000 people, adopted an amendment to their home rule charter that recognizes a community Bill of Rights, and allows for the prohibition of the injection of fracking wastewater on grounds that such prohibition is necessary to secure and protect those rights. The resolve of the citizens of Mansfield to vindicate these rights was demonstrated by a majority vote even after industry money poured in to wage an 11th hour astroturf campaign against the amendment.
CELDF Press Release: Broadview Heights Votes YES for Community Bill of Rights; Bans New Fracking, Injection Wells
by CELDF
November 7th, 2012
Today, with a presidential election and an historic City Charter Amendment (Issue 29) before them, voters in Broadview Heights, Ohio came out in record numbers to say overwhelmingly say YES to adoption a Community Bill of Rights banning corporations from conducting new shale gas drilling and related activities in the City. A similar Charter Amendment was also adopted by voters in Mansfield, Ohio by a wide margin. It also adds a Community Bill of Rights to the City Charter and prohibits injection wells without written City approval.
CELDF Press Release: Home Rule Charter Amendment Adopted by Popular Vote Elevates Community Rights over Corporate Privileges Bans Fracking, Injection Wells, Shale Gas Development in the Township
by CELDF
November 7th, 2012
Voters in Ferguson Township, Centre County Pennsylvania adopted a Community Bill of Rights guaranteeing the right to clean air, pure water, a sustainable energy future, the peaceful enjoyment of home, the right of ecosystems to exist and flourish, and the right to exercise self-government in the local community. To protect these rights, the amendment also bans corporations from conducting shale gas drilling and related activities in the community.
Centre Daily Times: Ferguson Township approves environmental bill of rights
by Jessica VanderKolkCentre Daily Times
November 6th, 2012
FERGUSON TOWNSHIP — With five of eight precincts approving, voters passed a referendum to add an environmental bill of rights to the township’s home rule charter Tuesday. According to unofficial county numbers, the measure passed 4,235 to 3,883. The measure outlines citizen rights to things like clean air, clean water, and sustainable communities. It also declares a ban on natural gas drilling and all actions related to the fracking industry.
Chesapeake Energy Tied to Mansfield, OH Bill of Rights Astroturf Attack
by Steve HornDeSmogBlog.com
November 6th, 2012
The oil and gas industry is waging an 11th hour astroturf campaign in Mansfield, OH in an attempt to defeat the "Community Bill of Rights" referendum. A "yes" vote would, in effect, prohibit hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") injection wells in Mansfield, a city of 48,000 located in the heart of the Utica Shale basin between Cleveland and Columbus.
Exclusive: Tea Party, Fracking Industry Launch Astroturf Campaign Against Mansfield, OH Community Bill of Rights Referendum
by Steve HornDeSmogBlog.com
November 4th, 2012
Ohio is referred to as a "battleground state" due to its status as a "swing state" in presidential elections. But another important battle is brewing in the Buckeye State, also set to be settled in the voting booth. This battle centers around a "Community Bill of Rights" referendum in Mansfield, OH and will be voted on in a simple "yes/no" manner. Mansfield is a city with roughly 48,000 citizens located 80 miles southwest of Cleveland and 66 miles northeast of Columbus, right in the heart of the Utica Shale basin.
Longview News Journal: Linzey: East Texas’ populist uprising
by Thomas Linzey, CELDFLongview News Journal
November 3rd, 2012
It’s not that East Texans have something against the oil industry — it’s that East Texans have something against corporations that have little respect for property rights, and no admiration for a pipeline that will do almost nothing to increase energy independence. So is the emerging saga over the Keystone XL pipeline....East Texans are filing lawsuits, getting arrested for trespassing, and handcuffing themselves to pipeline machinery....But individual civil disobedience by individual landowners will only go so far — as people have learned in other states — to stop the largest corporations from doing what they do, especially when what they do tramples legacy farms, property rights, and communities. People in other communities have begun pioneering a new era of resistance — one that uses their town, city, and county governments against both the corporations taking advantage of them, and the state and federal governments who help the corporations to do what they do.
Mansfield News Journal: Environmental issue heats up
by Linda MetzMansfield News Journal
November 2nd, 2012
MANSFIELD — The city’s quest for a charter amendment that would require companies seeking to build injection wells within city limits to obtain council’s written consent heated up considerably in the past week, with a flurry of political ads attacking the measure. Opponents — including the American Petroleum Institute and Ohio Chamber of Commerce — argue Mansfield’s proposed “environmental bill of rights” on the ballot Tuesday has overly broad language that would create too much regulation of businesses, killing job creation. Proponents — including city Law Director John Spon — say the charter amendment focuses strictly on construction of injection wells, and would bolster the city’s legal rights to protect residents and neighboring businesses against potential earthquakes or pollution of the underground water supply.
Centre Daily Times: Ferguson residents to vote on environmental bill of rights
by Jessica VanderKolkCentre Daily News
October 31st, 2012
A referendum related to environmental rights set for a vote in Ferguson Township has drawn some controversy between the township and the provision’s supporters. Members of Groundswell PA, a group advocating for sustainable communities, successfully petitioned to get an environmental bill of rights on the Nov. 6 ballot for potential acceptance by residents. The group did the same in State College last year, and voters approved the provision. The measure would amend the township’s home rule charter to state that residents have rights to clean air and water, self-government and a sustainable energy future. It also would ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the process being used across the state to produce natural gas.
Sun Star-Courier: Opinion - Endorsements
Sun Courier-Star
October 28th, 2012
It's no mystery that Broadview Heights is ground zero for the debate about urban has and oil drilling in Cuyahoga County. For a while it seemed like a new well was being drilled or approved every week. ...[I]ssue [29], if approved, will create a charter amendment that would establish a community bill of rights that bans most commercial oil and natural gas extraction as well as the storage, transportation or depositing of oil and gas drilling waste products within the city....[W]e feel voters should vote YES on Issue 29.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: The Next Page: When the streets ran with gas
by Joel A. TarrPittsburgh Post-Gazette
October 28th, 2012
Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania have had a long history of natural gas development. In spite of various technical differences, there are striking similarities between issues from our early history and the current debate over drilling in the Marcellus Shale. One of these concerns relates to the right of municipalities to enact regulations controlling natural gas operations within their boundaries without conflicting with state law. This is a major issue in regard to shale fracking for natural gas development today. But it was also prominent in the 1880s during the early days of traditional natural gas development and distribution.
NPR: Recognizing the Rights of Plants to Evolve
by Linton WeeksNPR
October 26th, 2012
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund argues that greenery does have interests — and rights. The Pennsylvania-based nonprofit works with communities around the world to "craft and adopt new laws that change the status of natural communities and ecosystems from being regarded as property under the law to being recognized as rights-bearing entities." Establishing a legal system in which natural communities and ecosystems have an inalienable right to exist and flourish, says Mari Margil of CELDF, "places the highest societal value on those natural systems and communities."
BroadView Journal: Election Issues in Broadview Heights, OH
BroadView Journal
October 25th, 2012
Letters to the editor and opinion pieces both for and against Issue 29, establishing a Community Bill of Rights for the people of Broadview Heights, OH. The Home Rule Charter Amendment is on the ballot November 6th. "On Aug. 9, Mothers Against Drilling in our Neighborhoods (MADION) submitted a petition bearing 1,742 signatures to the Bradview Heights City Council to qualify an initiative that would ban oil and gas drilling withint the city....The initiative would establish a local bill of rights - recognizing residents' rights to clean air and clean water - while banning oil and gas drilling that would violate those rights...In doing so, Broadview Heights would join over 140 other communities across the country that have adopted similar laws."
Cleveland.com: Message is clear if Broadview Heights voters approve Issue 29: Letter to the Editor
by Joe PriceCleveland.com
October 24th, 2012
“We the People” ...words possessing the profound foundation of the freedom and democracy we as Americans share, are deeply rooted in a Constitution that assures each of us countless unalienable rights, none greater than our right to choose, our right to self-govern granted to us through the power in our right to vote....On Nov. 6, “We the People” have before us Issue 29, the Broadview Heights bill of rights, whereby “We the People” have “All political power is inherent in the people,” to decide what is best for Broadview Heights. Our state legislature has avoided us, ignored our pleas for relief and our restoration of our constitutional right to home rule....A YES vote on Issue 29 restores our right to proclaim home rule, protects our home values and environment, assures the safety and welfare of our children and...informs our state legislature “We the people believe our vote does indeed count!”
YES! Magazine: 5 Ways to Protect the Rights of Future Generations
by Melanie Jae MartinYes! Magazine
October 16th, 2012
We often talk about the rights of women, immigrants, and animals. Yet the rights of future generations are rarely mentioned, despite the fact that their very ability to exist is threatened by our actions today. Perhaps, if the needs and rights of future people were legally recognized, it might give us the impetus to stop projects that threaten the climate and the survival of future peoples....Because the well-being of ecosystem and future people require some sort of legal framework in order to demand respect, it was decided that we would use the language of “rights” to do this, a strategy that has been successfully employed by groups like the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.
Mansfield News Journal: Environmental bill of rights needed
Mansfield News Journal
October 16th, 2012
The chief architect of Mansfield's proposed "environmental bill of rights," calls it "the true voice of the people." We agree, and urge city voters to support the measure Nov. 6. City Law Director John Spon engineered the proposed charter amendment after Preferred Fluids Management, a Texas company, obtained permits from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to drill two, 5,000-foot injection wells in Mansfield. The company wants to inject waste water from hydraulic fracturing gas and oil drilling -- known as fracking -- deep into the earth. The company says only the state may regulate injection wells, and the city has no say in the matter. That did not sit well with city officials, who feel Mansfield residents deserve to know what is in the material to be injected and ought to have a strong voice in the permit process. Spon says the proposal would bolster Mansfield's legal right to protect itself against potential pollution.
Yellow Springs News - Letter to the Editor: Ban empowers community
by Dimi ReberYellow Springs News
October 11th, 2012
Time to celebrate! On Oct. 1, after four previous readings, the Village Council, in their final vote, passed the community bill of rights ordinance banning corporations from fracking or the placement of injection wells with frack waste in the village. The ordinance was drafted by the Community Environmental [Legal] Defense Fund, or CELDF, a group which has helped communities all over the country to assert rights to local self-governance, challenging corporations’ rights to threaten a community’s health, welfare and environment. CELDF lent their assistance at the invitation of Gas and Oil Drilling Awareness and education, or GODAE, a group of Yellow Springs citizens concerned about the dangers of fracking and injection wells.
Akron Beacon Journal Online: Ohio's Yellow Springs adopts community bill of rights
by Bob DowningAkron Beacon Journal
October 3rd, 2012
On Oct. 1, the Yellow Springs Village Council voted 3-2 to adopt a Community Bill of Rights ordinance banning corporations from conducting shale gas drilling and related activities in the village. The ordinance was drafted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) at the invitation of the community group Gas and Oil Drilling Awareness and Education (GODAE), a group of citizens concerned about the potential effects of gas and oil drilling on the environment. Yellow Springs is the first municipality in the state of Ohio to enact a local Bill of Rights and protect those rights by prohibiting shale gas drilling and fracking and the ensuing injection wells. The first of its kind in Ohio local law asserts the fundamental rights of residents to clean air and water, and to protect the rights of nature.
Journal North: Group Seeks To Prohibit Fracking
by T.S. LastJournal North
September 27th, 2012
A grassroots group is working on two fronts to try to get both the city of Las Vegas and San Miguel County to place a ban on gas, oil and geothermal drilling. The Community for Clean Water Air and Earth is still pushing a “community rights ordinance” that would keep hydraulic fracturing – better known as fracking – out of Las Vegas but which the mayor has blocked.... The Las Vegas City Council passed the ordinance by a 3-1 vote in April.... [T]here is now a petition circulating encouraging the San Miguel County Commission to adopt a similar community bill of rights. She said the petition could contain as many as 2,000 signatures when it is submitted to the county clerk, likely sometime this week.
Salem News: Fracking foes lose bid for home rule vote
by Kevin HowellSalem News
September 26th, 2012
BEAVER TOWNSHIP- Local fracking opposition has been denied in an attempt to place a Home Rule issue on the November ballot. The Ohio Supreme Court on Sept. 14 denied a writ of mandamus that would have forced the township trustees to submit the issue to the Mahoning County Board of Elections. The ruling found that the group used an incorrect form to collect petitions to place the issue on the ballot. "The form was given to me by the Mahoning County Board of Elections and has been used recently and successfully in another township to put home rule on the ballot," explained township resident and organizer Julia Fuhrman Davis. "The form contains all the required information so it is hard to explain why the Supreme Court is forcing citizens to come up with their own form.
Las Vegas Optic Letter-to-the-Editor: Ordinance Would be a "Betrayal"
by Lee EinerLas Vegas Optic
September 20th, 2012
We’ve been conditioned to think that giving industry a seat at the regulatory table is reasonable, but the truth its that the practice is absolutely imbecilic. The need for regulation arises because industries are unwilling to do the right thing in the first place, and because their past patterns of behavior, placing profit before the welfare of communities and ecosystems, have resulted in grievous harm to communities and the natural resources upon which those communities depend. Allowing these industries to shape the regulations intended to restrain their own bad behavior is foolish and counterproductive.
Las Vegas Optic: Interim fracking ban OKd
by Martin SalazarLas Vegas Optic
September 20th, 2012
The City Council by a 3-1 vote on Wednesday evening passed a moratorium on all oil, gas and geothermal drilling within city limits following a rancorous exchange between members of the public and city officials....The agenda item once again drew attention to the community rights ordinance, which imposes a permanent ban on fracking. Three of four councilors voted to approve it in April. Mayor Alfonso Ortiz, however, has refused to sign that ordinance, which seeks to limit the rights currently enjoyed by corporations, because he and the city attorney contend that it is unconstitutional and violates the city charter.
The East Hampton Star: Spray Decried as Third W. Nile Case Found
by Christopher WalshThe East Hampton Star
September 20th, 2012
The New York State Department of Health confirmed a third human case of West Nile virus in Suffolk County this week and is analyzing several other potential cases. Still, some Town of East Hampton residents remain skeptical of both the efficacy and the safety of the insecticides that were sprayed throughout the summer by the Suffolk County Department of Public Works’ Division of Vector Control....“I’m not speaking on behalf of the board of trustees,” Ms. [Deborah] Klughers told The Star, “but for myself, as a trustee. I don’t think a few cases of West Nile warrants spraying of our marshland with a chemical that is potentially deadly to arthropods and beneficial insects. There’s a whole environmental question...." To the question of overruling the county, there are options, said Ben Price, the projects director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, based in Mercersburg, Pa. The organization assists communities in establishing the greatest degree of self-government possible, Mr. Price explained.
Pittsburgh City Paper: On the Record with Wanda Guthrie of the Thomas Merton Center's Committee on Environmental Justice
by Lauren DalyPittsuburgh City Paper
September 19th, 2012
With Marcellus Shale drilling taking hold in Pennsylvania, municipalities like South Fayette and Pittsburgh have enacted their own regulations curtailing it — attracting scrutiny and challenges from the industry. Meanwhile, activists like Wanda Guthrie are trying to push communities to get involved with the policies that shape the environment around them.... [Guthrie says about PA's Act 13]: "Even if they give rights back to the municipalities, we're still stuck with the Oil and Gas Act. It's kind of like we're going to have a fracking problem, anyway. From the beginning I've said, we don't have a drilling problem, we have a democracy problem."
Take Part on Huffington Post: I, River: In New Zealand, the Whanganui River Becomes a Legal Person
by Alison FairbrotherTake Part
September 18th, 2012
Under a landmark agreement, signed in New Zealand earlier this summer, the Whanganui River has become a legal entity with a legal voice. The agreement is the result of over a hundred years of advocacy by the Whanganui iwi, an indigenous community with a long history of reliance on the river and its bountiful natural resources....Organizations that work to protect the rights of indigenous communities worldwide are celebrating the agreement as an affirmation of the inextricable relationship between indigenous communities and natural ecosystems....“People not only in the U.S. but also in other countries are saying to themselves that something is fundamentally wrong in our environmental legal frameworks,” says Mari Margil, associate director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. The Legal Defense Fund is at the center of a movement that believes climate change and other growing international issues require new ways of thinking....“Ecosystems and natural communities are not merely property that can be owned,” according to the organizaton’s website, “but are entities that have an independent right to flourish.”
Fairfield Ledger, Letter to the Editor: Municipal Home Rule right for Fairfield
by Bob StoneFairfield Ledger
September 13th, 2012
Municipal Home Rule is sanctioned by the Iowa Constitution....We would like to see Fairfield revise its charter and become a Home Rule City....[W]ith a Fairfield Community Bill of Rights, projects that are harmful for workers, the local economy, livability, property values, and people’s health; projects that prevent municipalities from creating the economically and environmentally sustainable communities they seek would automatically be disallowed. Our Community Bill of Rights will always be there to clarify what our community ideals and standards are. Home Rule assures that our leaders govern according to the will of the citizens through government of the people, by the people, and for the people – not for corporations, not for the utility companies, not for any outside entity, but for the people.
Tribune Chronicle: Youngstown rally targets fracking
by Dan PompiliTribune Chronicle
September 12th, 2012
YOUNGSTOWN - Joining rallies across the nation Wednesday, at least 30 people turned out in Younstown for a protest against fracking. Keynote speaker Doug Shields, the former Pittsburgh City Council president who led the charge to ban the natural gas drilling process of hydraulic fracturing in that city, told the group that politicians need to stop passing legislation that favors corporations without being fully versed on the subject.
Colorado Springs Independent: Anti-fracking group threatens ballot measure
by Pam ZubeckColorado Springs Independent
September 11th, 2012
Residents of the region who oppose using hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas drilling say they will try to mount a ballot measure to ban fracking within the city limits of Colorado Springs....Colorado Springs Citizens for Community Rights [says]..."Since the U S Government, the State of Colorado and this Council are not protecting the Citizens’ of Colorado Springs rights to be healthy, to have clean air, clean water and clean soil, we citizens, calling ourselves the Colorado Springs Citizens for Community Rights (CSCCR), are going to be initiating a petition campaign to place a rights based charter amendment banning fracking on the ballot in either April or November of 2013."
Las Vegas Optic Letter-to-the-Editor: Fracking poison water, air, us
by Diana PresserLas Vegas Optic
September 9th, 2012
I want to thank Tom McDonald for his (Aug. 27) editorial asserting what the oil and gas industry’s carpet-baggers will not tell you, our commissioners (including Ron Ortega), or Ron Barela; namely, that the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), over 60 years and a million wells later, has proven to cause irreparable harm to the groundwater, livestock and humans living on or near fracking sites. The long and well documented history of “fraccidents” (including fatalities) speaks for itself.
Cleveland.com: Mansfield leads legal fight against injection wells holding fracking waste
by Aaron MarshallCleveland.com
September 9th, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Mansfield voters will decide this November if they want to join a growing movement among Ohio cities trying to block injection wells that store waste from the controversial hydraulic fracturing process. Using Ohio's home-rule provision, Mansfield officials have placed ground-breaking language on the ballot designed to stop injection wells -- aimed squarely at a pair planned by a Texas company -- from being located in the Richland County city of 48,000....John Spon, Mansfield law director, said he's prepared to go to the Ohio Supreme Court to defend his community's right to protect its water resources, which he views as under attack. The language being voted on would establish a "bill of rights" in Mansfield's charter and allow local officials to take action to protect those rights, including banning injection wells.

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