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Press Release: Pennsylvania Community Rights Network (PCRN) Seats Founding Board of Directors
June 21st, 2013
Declaring that the legitimate foundation of government is the right to local self-governance, the Pennsylvania Community Rights Network reviewed bylaws and officially launched the organization on Monday in Bowmanstown, Carbon County. Defense team mulls next steps to deter drilling in Broadview Heights
by Samantha
June 20th, 2013
Broadview Heights, OH, prepares to enforce Community Bill of Rights charter amendment, adopted last November, to stop fracking.
The Bradford Era: Ridgway Township Supervisors vote against drilling ban ordinance
by Gretchen RokoskyThe Bradford Era
June 19th, 2013
Ridgway Township, PA, Township Supervisors vote against a Community Bill of Rights ordinance that would have protected residents from shale gas drilling and fracking by banning it. How a Community Bill of Rights is Empowering People Against Corporations
by Matt
June 18th, 2013
Taking rights to the community level: covers CELDF's work in supporting communities that are building a Community Rights movement.
Truthout: GM Wheat Discovered in Oregon, Benton County Continues Work on Food Bill of Rights
by Clinton LindseyTruthout
June 17th, 2013
Benton County Community Rights Coalition moves forward with their Community Bill of Rights initiative, confronting the bio-tech industry and asserting rights to a sustainable food system.
The Athens News: Local group pitches anti-fracking campaign to regional mayors
by David DeWittThe Athens News
June 16th, 2013
Community Rights efforts expand in Ohio as The Bill of Rights Committee based in Athens moves forward both with their ballot initiative for November to protect their community from fracking, and a broader proposal to expand Community Rights state-wide.
E & E Publishing: N.M. county on fracking ban: 'We're not done yet'
by April ReeseE & E Publishing
June 12th, 2013
Mora County, NM, County Commissioners tighten their Community Bill of Rights ordinance to ban fracking.
The Ecologist: Rivers and Natural Ecosystems as Rights Bearing Subjects
by Robin MilamThe Ecologist
June 12th, 2013
A fundamental paradigm shift is happening as the legal rights of nature - and the recognition of human interdependence with nature - is taking root.
East Boulder County United: Petition Campaign Kick-Off Event
East Boulder County United
June 6th, 2013
The Lafayette Community Rights Act charter amendment language is approved by Lafayette City, and marks the launching of the petition drive to place the amendment on the ballot in November. Passage would establish community rights and prohibit fracking as a violation of those rights.
The Plain Dealer: Broadview Heights City council considering legal assistance to combat Bass Energy well at Saint Sava
by Samantha
June 6th, 2013
In Broadview Heights, OH, details are being finalized for CELDF and Robert E. Sweeney Co. to provide legal services to enforce the Community Bill of Rights banning fracking, adopted by residents last November.
Green Fire Times: Mora County Community Rights Law: Self-Determination
by Kathleen DudleyGreen Fire Times
June 1st, 2013
The Mora County Community Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance confronts the status quo and insists on Community Rights.
The Post: Letter to the Editor: We can’t give up the fight for a sustainable future
by Tish O'DellThe Post
June 1st, 2013
As North Royalton, OH, faces the fracking in their community, Broadview Heights neighbor Tish O'Dell offers this: "Who gets to decide if the spills, leaks and pollution are worth the risk: the people who live in North Royalton or the drilling company that profits from what they extract?" It's time for "We the People" to assert our rights.
Santa Fe New Mexican: Rights-of-way, GMOs, fracking: Issues of worth
by Orlando RomeroSanta Fe New Mexican
May 28th, 2013
Santa Fe New Mexican columnist Orlando Romero celebrates Mora County, NM, for taking a stand to protect the water and environment by passing a Community Bill of Rights banning fracking.
Los Angeles Times: New Mexico county first in nation to ban fracking to safeguard water
by Julie CartLos Angeles Times
May 28th, 2013
Mora County, New Mexico residents stand behind Mora County Commissioners adoption of the first county-wide Community Rights ordinance banning fracking, stating that water is more important than oil.
Al Jazeera: US region bans oil and gas drilling
Al Jazeera
May 27th, 2013
Al Jazeera clip on Mora County, New Mexico's banning of shale gas drilling and fracking to protect their community right to water.
Public News Service: Fracking Being Challenged on Federal and Local Fronts
by Renee BlakePublic News Service
May 21st, 2013
CELDF's Community Organizer Kathleen Dudley is interviewed about Mora County's groundbreaking step as the first county in the U.S. to adopt a Community Bill of Rights banning fracking.
The Spokesman-Review: Spokane City Council wants initiatives sent to voters
by Jonathan BruntThe Spokesman-Review
May 21st, 2013
Spokane, WA, City Council voted 4-3 to place Envision Spokane's Community Bill of Rights on the ballot in November.
The Taos News: Oil, gas extraction ban: Mora leaders push for 'sustainable' growth
by Eric HeinzThe Taos News
May 19th, 2013
Mora County Commissioners, passing the first county-level Community Bill of Rights ordinance banning fracking, focus on sustainable agriculture and eco-tourism to promote the county.
Las Vegas Optic: Letters to the Editor
Las Vegas Optic
May 19th, 2013
Letters to the Editor in the Las Vegas Optic supporting and critiquing Mora County's adoption of a Community Bill of Rights.
The Spokesman-Review: Some politicians trust the voters only so far
by Jim CamdenThe Spokesman-Review
May 18th, 2013
The Spokesman-Review staff writer Jim Camden hints at the hypocrisy of the Spokane council members who may not allow the voters to decide on Envision Spokane's ballot measure, containing a Community Bill of Rights, in November. Broadview Heights well project has residents fired up
by Samantha
May 15th, 2013
OH - CELDF ready to defend Broadview Heights' Community Rights Home Rule charter amendment banning fracking as residents insist the municipality uphold the ban. Two new oil wells are being proposed within the city, which, if approved, would violate the charter amendment.
Las Vegas Optic: Lawyers lining up to help
Las Vegas Optic
May 12th, 2013
Attorneys in 5 states pledge to provide support to Mora County if their Community Bill of Rights is challenged. In a letter to Mora County, attorneys stated that "'Mora County’s recognition of, and assertion of, the right to self-government on behalf of the people of Mora County is the thread that combines all of the communities in which we work. Thus, when one government advances that work, everyone moves closer to securing that right at every level of government.’”
Sangre de Cristo Chronicle: Mora County Commission bans oil, gas extraction
by Eric HeinzSangre de Cristo Chronicle
May 11th, 2013
CELDF comment: This article indicates the Mora County Commissioners issued a press release stating they were the first municipality in the country to ban fracking. This is incorrect; the press release indicated correctly that Mora County's Community Bill of Rights is the first county-level ordinance to ban fracking as a violation of residents' community bill of rights. More than a dozen other communities in five states have adopted similar ordinances at the township, town, and city levels.
The Pacific Northwest Inlander: Power to the People
by Thomas Linzey, Esq.The Pacific Northwest Inlander
May 10th, 2013
Spokane, WA, and Mora Co, NM: two very different communities with a shared determination to adopt enforceable Community Bills of Rights.
The Gazette: Colorado Springs group sues to allow vote on fracking ban
by Ned HunterThe Gazette
May 10th, 2013
Colorado Springs Citizens for Community Rights is suing the city of Colorado Springs to move forward with a petition to place a Community Bill of Rights City Charter amendment on the ballot.
Read the Dirt: Does Food Sovereignty Exist in the United States? Food and the Community Rights Movement
by Trisha MandesRead the Dirt
May 8th, 2013
Trisha Mandes on the Community Rights Movement to challenge corporate and state hegemony over our food systems.
The Athens News: Youngstown voters shoot down anti-fracking ballot measure
The Athens News
May 8th, 2013
While Youngstown, OH, residents lost their Community Bill of Rights charter amendment at the ballot this month, Athens residents continue to petition to submit their Community Bill of Rights for the ballot in November.
Akron Beacon Journal: Youngstown voters reject community bill of rights
by Bob DowningAkron Beacon Journal
May 8th, 2013
The Associated Press reports Youngstown, OH, voters rejected a proposal to ban hydraulic fracturing.
ABQ Journal: The fundamental right to say 'no'
by Kathleen DudleyABQ Journal
May 8th, 2013
The votes cast for the Mora County Community Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance, were votes for self-determination and for democracy. Anti-fracking charter amendment soundly defeated in Youngstown
by David
May 8th, 2013
Opponents of the Youngstown, OH, Community Bill of Rights Charter Amendment elevate the importance of jobs and business over clean air and water.
In These Times: Frack Corporate Personhood
by Anthony MaginiIn These Times
May 8th, 2013
Word of Washington Co, PA, Judge O'Dell-Seneca's recent ruling that corporations do not count as people continues to spread.
La Jicarita: Mora County Takes a Stand
by Kay MatthewsLa Jicarita
May 7th, 2013
It’s already all over the news, in both New Mexico and the nation. Mora County has taken a stand: “It shall be unlawful for any corporation to engage in the extraction of oil, natural gas, or other hydrocarbons within Mora County.” With that statement northern New Mexico’s Mora County becomes the first county in the U.S. to ban oil and gas development by ordinance.
San Francisco Chronicle: Anti-fracking amendment rejected in NE Ohio city
by Julie Carr Smyth, AP Statehouse CorrespondentSan Francisco Chronicle
May 7th, 2013
Youngstown, OH's Home Rule Charter Amendment defeated; supporters say they are not done. Lawsuits likely after NM county passes ban on oil and gas drilling
by Rob Nikolewski
May 6th, 2013
Mora Co, NM County Commissioners prepared to defend the first-in-the-nation county-level Community Bill of Rights.
ideastream: Youngstown Ballot Measure Creates Community Bill of Rights, Prohibits Fracking
May 5th, 2013
Youngstown, OH votes on Tuesday on Community Bill of Rights that establishes a right to clean air, water, and local self governance - and bans fracking as a violation of those rights. Voices both for and against the Home Rule charter amendment are speaking out.
The Santa Fe New Mexican: Our view: Battle sounds over oil and gas
The Santa Fe New Mexican
May 5th, 2013
In Mora Co, NM, the gas and oil industry says Mora Co Commissioners are throwing away jobs and revenue. Mora Co Commissioners say they'd rather protect the land and water that communities will need long after the gas is gone.
ABQ Mora County bans oil, gas drilling
by T.S. LastABQ
May 5th, 2013
Mora County has sent notice that the petroleum industry is not welcome, becoming the first county in the nation to ban oil and gas drilling within its boundaries. Letter to the Editor: Vote Yes on Charter Amendment
by Raymond
May 5th, 2013
Youngstown resident Raymond Vershum, involved in writing the Youngstown Community Bill of Rights charter amendment, responds to piece opposing the amendment.
New Mexico Watchdog: Get ready for lawsuits after Mora County passes oil and gas ban
by Rob Nikolewski New Mexico Watchdog
May 3rd, 2013
As Mora Co, NM, County Commissioners take a stand to protect water and assert Community Rights - the first county level of government in the nation to do so - gas and oil industry officials mull over lawsuit.
The Spokesman-Review: Vestal: Mike Fagan reaffirms principle over politics
by Shawn VestalThe Spokesman-Review
May 3rd, 2013
Although Spokane City Councilman has concerns about Envision Spokane's duly qualified ballot initiative to amend the city's Home Rule Charter with a Community Bill of Rights, he takes a stand to let the people decide. Letters to the Editor re Youngstown Charter Amendment
May 3rd, 2013
Residents both for and against Youngstown's Community Bill of Rights charter amendment voice their opinions.
The Raton Range: Colfax’s neighbor bans oil, gas extraction; Mora County claims to be first county in nation with such a law
by Todd WildermuthThe Raton Range
May 3rd, 2013
Mora County Commissioners urge state legislature to follow them in banning fracking.
Las Vegas Optic: Letters to the Editor
Las Vegas Optic
May 2nd, 2013
In Mora Co, NM, citizens supporting Mora County's Community Bill of Rights speak out.
The Las Vegas Optic: Mora Republican Decries Ordinance
by Martin SalazarLas Vegas Optic
May 2nd, 2013
While Mora Co's Republican Part chairman speaks out in favor of gas drilling for jobs, supporters of the county's Community Bill of Rights argue that economic benefits are short-lived, and the community must protect its land and water.
The Garden Island: About 50 protest GMOs
by Léo AzambujaThe Garden Island
May 2nd, 2013
CELDF's Community Rights organizing expands to include Hawaii, as residents on the island of Kaua'i urge their County Council to adopt the Kaua'i Food Bill of Rights to create a sustainable agricultural system on the island, and ban GMOs.
Santa Maria Sun: Down the tube
by Patrick M. KlemzSanta Maria Sun
May 2nd, 2013
In San Luis Obispo, CA, residents begin the work of advancing a community rights ordinance to ban fracking.
The Athens News: Group wants to spread anti-fracking gospel
by David DeWittThe Athens News
May 1st, 2013
In Ohio, Community Rights advocates organize across the Hocking River Valley to prohibit fracking as a violation of rights to clean air, water, and local self-governance. Mora County, New Mexico Asserts Rights to Community Control, Rights of Nature
May 1st, 2013
Located in Northern New Mexico, the Mora County Community Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance establishes a local Bill of Rights that notably includes the right to clean air, water, a healthy environment and the rights of nature. It prohibits activities which would interfere with those rights, including oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing for shale gas.
EcoWatch: First County in U.S. Bans Oil and Gas Extraction
April 30th, 2013
Mora Co, NM, County Commissioners make history as the first county in the U.S. to pass an ordinance banning oil and gas extraction.
Las Vegas Optic:
by Mercy López and Martín SalazarLas Vegas Optic
April 30th, 2013
MORA — In a split vote on Monday, the Mora County Commission approved a community water rights and self-government ordinance, becoming the first county in the United States to permanently ban oil and gas drilling.
The Republic: NM county bans all oil and natural gas extraction, cites need to protect groundwater
by Susan Montoya BryanAssociate Press, The Republic
April 30th, 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — A sparsely populated county in northern New Mexico has taken aim at the oil and natural gas industry, approving an ordinance that outlaws the extraction of the natural resources and puts the county's decision-making rights ahead of business interests and federal and state permits.
State College residents opposed to Penn State natural gas pipeline continue dialogue
by Jessica VanderkolkCentre Daily Times
April 27th, 2013
CELDF invited to State College to teach Democracy School in June as residents continue to organize around stopping a possible gas pipleline through the borough.
The Recorder: Committee next step for biomass
by Anita FritzThe Recorder
April 24th, 2013
Four years ago, an energy corporation tried to site a biomass plant in Greenfield, MA. Today, it's back, and residents are organizing to stop the project. CELDF is partnering with residents and local officials, including holding a Democracy School in May.
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. Proposed Pipeline Fight Still On
by Mallory
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
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
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
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 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.

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