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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.
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 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
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 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. Broadview Heights discussing how to enforce new charter amendment
by Robert
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
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
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
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
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
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." Message is clear if Broadview Heights voters approve Issue 29: Letter to the Editor
by Joe
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. Mansfield leads legal fight against injection wells holding fracking waste
by Aaron
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.
Akron Beacon Journal: Communities seek ways to override state control of oil and gas drilling boom
by Bob DowningThe Akron Beacon Journal Online
September 8th, 2012
Patti Gorcheff is worried about the potential dangers of oil and gas drilling near schools in her community near Youngstown. Julia Fuhrman Davis, who lives in the same area south of town, considers the drilling — known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking — to be a threat, and she’s angry that there is little citizens can do. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is now in charge. The two activists are involved in grass-roots campaigns ... pushing [for] what’s called limited home rule in Ohio townships and a community bill of rights in cities and villages, both aimed at increased protection for air, water, health, property values and public safety.
Tree Hugger: New Zealand Grants a River the Rights of Personhood
by Stephen MessengerTree Hugger
September 6th, 2012
From the dawn of history, and in cultures throughout the world, humans have been prone to imbue Earth's life-giving rivers with qualities of life itself -- a fitting tribute, no doubt, to the wellsprings upon which our past (and present) civilizations so heavily rely. But while modern thought has come to regard these essential waterways more clinically over the centuries, that might all be changing once again. Meet the Whanganui. You might call it a river, but in the eyes of the law, it has the standings of a person.
Press Release: Thomas Merton Center Signs on to the Chambersburg Declaration
Thomas Merton Center
September 5th, 2012
Pittsburgh, PA (September 5, 2012) The Thomas Merton Center became the latest organization to sign onto The Chambersburg Declaration, which denounces the concentration of "wealth and greater governing power through the exploitation of human and natural communities," and declares that "environmental and economic sustainability can be achieved only when the people affected by governing decisions are the ones who make them." The Chambersburg Declaration calls for the convening of a People's Constitutional Convention with delegates chosen from every County and Township "representing municipal communities, who will propose constitutional changes to secure the inalienable right to local, community self-government free of state and corporate preemption." Broadview Heights oil and gas drilling amendment to go before voters
by Alison
September 5th, 2012
Broadview Heights residents will have a chance in November to say whether they want more oil and gas wells in their city....Council members voted unanimously Tuesday night to place an amendment on the ballot that would prohibit new wells in the southern Cuyahoga County bedroom community....Dubbed a "Community Bill of Rights," the measure says that Broadview Heights residents have the right to clean air, clean water, clean soil and a sustainable energy future. It also prohibits new drilling or using new methods such as horizontal fracking to extract gas and oil from existing wells.
The Standard Speaker: Packer Twp. to revamp biosolids ordinance
by Mia LightThe Standard Speaker
September 5th, 2012
Packer Township no longer has an ordinance that outlaws the use of sewage sludge as soil fertilizer. But, according to the board of supervisors, a new, stronger ordinance will soon be in place....Board Chairman William Swineberg said...[that] supervisors have decided, on the advice of attorneys from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund CELDF), to revoke the existing ordinance and prepare to adopt a stronger version of the law.
The Examiner: Ohio city council OK's drill ban ballot question
by AP StaffThe Examiner
September 5th, 2012
BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, Ohio (AP) — Leaders in a northeast Ohio city have voted to place an oil and gas drilling ban question on the November ballot. The Broadview Heights City Council voted 6-0 on Tuesday on an initiative for a city charter amendment prohibiting future drilling as part of a Community Bill of Rights. The amendment also would say city residents have a right to clean air, clean water, clean soil and a sustainable energy future.
Press Release: Broadview Heights, OH City Council Passes Bill of Rights going on November Ballot
September 5th, 2012
BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, Ohio – After a group of concerned residents, MADION, Mothers Against Drilling In Our Neighborhoods, successfully circulated an initiative petition to place a Community Bill of Rights Charter Amendment on the November ballot, City Council voted 6-0 to allow the Initiative to move forward to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections for placement on the November ballot. Residents collected over 1700 support of the initiative being placed on the ballot.... “This is a victory for the RIGHTS of the local community over state preemptive law, which strips citizens of local self governing rights”, stated Tish O’Dell, MADION co-founder. “It is about ending the subordination of the rights of the people to the privileges handed to corporations.”
Yellow Springs News: Drilling ban is approved
by Diane ChiddisterYellow Springs News
August 30th, 2012
At their meeting Monday, Aug. 20, Village Council took an initial step toward becoming the first municipality in Ohio to ban fracking and injection wells within its borders. Council passed by 3–1–1 the first reading of an ordinance to ban the oil and gas industry practices....The issue, [Councilman] Walkey said, is weighing “whether to expose the village to the risk of a potential lawsuit, for which the value would be known, or to expose villagers to potential contamination of air and water” and “who here can place a value on health and safety?” Walkey stated that he stands with those who assert the authority of the municipality to “protect the water supply, the health of citizens and the safety of the environment.”
Guest Editorial: Why the Recent Act 13 Decision Won’t Help to Stop Fracking
by Thomas LinzeyCELDF
August 22nd, 2012
Recently, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania struck down key parts of Act 13, the now-infamous Pennsylvania state law that sought to nullify municipal zoning restrictions on natural gas extraction and gas “fracking” across the State....While the Commonwealth Court did rule to limit the reach of Act 13, the decision was not based on the right of communities to stop fracking. Instead, the Court ruled that the State couldn’t use the Act to force gas extraction operations onto land not locally zoned for it, because such coercion would interfere with the rights of neighboring property owners. It was thus a property rights decision, not a community rights one.
Yellow Springs News: Council votes down streetscape plan, supports fracking ban
by Diane ChiddisterYellow Springs News
August 21st, 2012
[A] majority of Council members voted in favor of a local ban on fracking and injection wells in Yellow Springs, a proposal brought by a group of concerned citizens. The ban states that the municipality has the authority to outlaw the practices of the oil and gas industry within municipal borders....
Northwest Citizen: Bellingham Community Rights vs. Corporate Rights
by Suzanne RavetNorthwest Citizen
August 17th, 2012
We are currently in a situation where elected officials are required to uphold laws that have been manipulated and molded by ‘piles of money,’ not people, for the past 100+ years. Many, if not most, people didn’t sign Prop 2 [Bellingham Community Bill of Rights] because they believed it would be enacted into law; they did it to protest the current structure of law, and in the hope of changing that structure in the future. The uproar surrounding Prop 2 exposes the depth of prejudice and absolute inability of people to protect their community and property. I hear more talk about the history of railroad tyranny (especially from right wing people) than ever before. I hear labor people talk about how we can’t stop the terminal from coming, so we might as well ‘pick our poison.’ The second step, after knowledge, is the willingness to shatter our existing framework and change it to something that is actually humane. People are moving closer to that every day.
Centre Daily Times: Petition added to Ferguson Township ballot
by Matt Carroll and Jessica VanderKolkCentre Daily Times
August 15th, 2012
BELLEFONTE — The Centre County Election Board is considering how to word a referendum on the November ballot that seeks to ban natural gas drilling in Ferguson Township. Members of Groundswell PA have filed a petition seeking to amend Ferguson Township’s home rule charter by adding a community bill of rights, which they say will protect the local environment. Groundswell, the group behind a similar movement last year in State College, has collected enough signatures to place the petition on the November ballot. Ferguson Township resident Jeff Kurland, a member of the group, filed the petition with the county. The group aims to protect drinking water and air by preventing new natural gas drilling sites in the township.
Yellow Springs News: Council puts drilling ban on hold for now
by Diane ChiddisterYellow Springs News
August 9th, 2012
At the Aug. 6 Village Council meeting, a group of citizens urged Council to be the first municipality in the state to ban oil and gas drilling in town in an effort to protect local water. The...ordinance includes a citizens' bill of rights, which assert, based on the Declaration of Independence and the Ohio Constitution's recognition that "All political power is inherent in the people," oil and gas drilling and the placement of injection wells in town would be banned "because those actions cannot be achieved without violating the rights of residents and communites or endangering their health, safety and welfare...."
Yellow Spring News: Corporate vs. the common good
by Diane ChiddisterYellow Springs News
August 9th, 2012
It can't be easy to sit on Village Council, in a town so rich in passionate and opinionated discourse. And the challenge must be especially great now, after this Monday's meeting when agorup of concerned citizens urged Council to pass an ordinance that seeks to protect villagers' health and well-being, but in doing so violates Ohio law. The proposed ordinance would ban oil and gas drilling in the village, along with the placement of injection wells that store fracking waste....[I]t seems prudent to ban these practice, which are only weakly regulated.
Yellow Springs News: Council considers drilling ordinance--Ban would be first in Ohio
by Megan BachmanYellow Springs News
August 9th, 2012
Yellow Springs, though far from the epicenter of natural gas fracking in Ohio, could nevertheless become the first town in the state to ban all oil and gas drilling and waste wells within its municipal limits through passage of what is described as rights-based legislation. Organizers with the local group Gas and Oil Drilling Awareness and Education, or GODAE, will propose the pioneering legislation at Village Council’s meeting on Monday, Aug. 6. The proposed ordinance would ban the siting of oil and gas extraction wells or the placement of injection wells within the Village on the claim that such wells would violate the civil rights of local residents and threaten their health and safety.
Press Release: Washington Communities Launch Statewide Network To Advocate for Community Rights
August 7th, 2012
SPOKANE: In late July, citizens from Washington communities gathered in Spokane to launch the Washington Community Rights Network (WCRN). Network members released The Spokane Declaration, calling upon communities across the state to join together in a movement to elevate the rights of people, their communities, and nature above the claimed rights of corporations....The creation of the Washington Community Rights Network comes out of active community campaigns on both sides of the Cascades.
Akron-Beacon Journal: Home rule battle moves into Mahoning County
by Bob DowningAkron-Beacon Journal
August 6th, 2012
The home rule fight over natural gas drilling has come to Ohio. On July 31, two Mahoning County residents filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the Ohio Supreme Court to compel the Beaver Township trustees to accept their petitions to place home rule for the township on the Nov. 6 ballot. The petition was filed by Akron attorney Warner Mendenhall on behalf of residents Julia Fuhrman Davis and Patti Gorcheff. The township trustees on July 27 had rejected their petitions....Proponents feel that home rule could give local communities the ability to enact laws ... to block fracking.
Press Release: Spokane’s Move to Amend, Occupy Spokane, Envision Spokane, and CELDF Join Together to Advance Elections Ordinance Banning Corporate Involvement in Elections and Government While Stripping Corporate “Rights”
July 30th, 2012
Spokane, Washington (July 26) – Four organizations focused on limiting untoward corporate involvement in the community have joined together in Spokane, Washington to ballot-qualify a “Fair and Clean Elections and Government” ordinance. That local law would ban all corporate contributions to candidates and initiatives, prohibit corporate communications with elected officials outside of public fora, and remove corporate “rights” from corporations and other business entities violating the law.
The Bellingham Herald: Finds council's actions too timid on rights bill
by Maureen RyanThe Bellingham Herald
July 27th, 2012
July 3 I sat on the floor of the packed City Council chambers to hear public comments on the council's authorized lawsuit challenging Proposition 2, the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights. I stood to speak too late as the council called comments to a close near 10:30 p.m....I would have pointed out: we are not lacking in science, we know the risks of coal export. In Bellingham, we also do not lack public will, as 10,000-plus signatures and packed chambers attest. What we need are people in power who are willing to bear some risk.
OMB Watch: Local Officials Standing Up to Protect Their Communities from Fracking
OMB Watch
July 24th, 2012
In efforts to establish a better legal position for communities to win preemption challenges, a new strategy has emerged. Local communities have begun passing community-rights ordinances....CELDF has been helping community groups and municipalities create rights-based ordinances, which focus on a community’s rights – i.e., a community’s right to local self-government, rights to clean water, and rights of community members over corporations....By passing "Community Rights bills," local communities are creatively changing the conversation. By making this an issue of democratic control and local choice, they should increase their chances of prevailing in court. And we expect they will expand their grassroots support in the process, since the right of local self-determination is a strongly held American value.
WKBN 27 First News: Dozens Packed Public Utilities Meeting in Youngstown
WKBN 27 First News
July 22nd, 2012
You don't really have a fracking problem here, you have a democracy problem. That's was the message at a City of Youngstown Public Utilities Committee meeting Sunday. Dozens of community members against fracking packed council chambers to show their support of a proposed community-rights based ban on fracking. "It's not just about protecting the city, it's about protecting the water that nourishes the city," said Susie Beiersdorfer, Frack Free Mahoning Valley. The proposed six page ordinance spells out the rights of city residents and the natural environment, including the right to self government. "It's a community bill of rights that recognizes that the members of the community have certain rights, and that to protect those rights they have democratic authority to prohibit activities that would violate those rights,"said Ben Price, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. Broadview Heights anti-drilling group hopes to get Bill of Rights on ballot
by Scott
July 19th, 2012
BROADVIEW HEIGHTS: Mother’s Against Drilling In Our Neighborhoods (MADION) has been clear on its stance against oil and gas well drilling in Broadview Heights. Now the group hopes to find out how many residents truly feel the same way. MADION co-founders Tish O’Dell and Michelle Aini and others have been circulating petitions in hopes of getting a Bill of Rights added to the November ballot. At the heart of the Bill of Rights is the right to prohibit new oil or gas wells from being drilled within the city....“It’s a matter of us sticking up for our rights, locally,” said O’Dell, who, along with Aini, has been outspoken about safety and property value concerns with drilling. “We can’t sit around while our rights are being violated."
Lehigh Valley Live: Community Bill of Rights began at democracy school
by Zach LindseyLehigh Valley Live
July 11th, 2012
While Easton’s proposed Community Bill of Rights is not officially endorsed by the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership’s steering committee, the ordinance comes out of a democracy school approved by the committee in November 2011. Hosted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, the democracy school concept is a way for community groups such as the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership to learn more about organizing and engaging the public. “The school wasn’t about committing to a program or an agenda,” said Rep. Bob Freeman. “These are discussions about ways to empower local communities.”
The Morning Call Easton Area News: Lower Mount Bethel rejects sludge ordinance
by Adam ClarkThe Morning Call Easton Area News
July 10th, 2012
Lower Mount Bethel Township has decided not to adopt a proposed ordinance banning the use of sludge on township farmland. The ordinance was presented to the township earlier this year by The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a Franklin County nonprofit organization that offers free legal advice. Though residents have asked the supervisors to take steps to limit or ban the use of sludge, the proposed ordinance has "absolutely no chance" of being upheld in court, solicitor Joseph Zator said.
Alliance for Sustainable Communities: The Importance of Being Radical
by Noël JonesAlliance for Sustainable Communities
July 9th, 2012
As an activist in Easton, there is one crucial challenge I have encountered in trying to engage residents in any cause, regardless of the issue. Whether it’s fighting fracking for natural gas, sewage sludge fertilization, landfills—the challenge is fragmentation. People—good people—are very busy, working hard to sustain themselves and their families, and they have little free time to divide among additional pursuits. When they do commit to carving out time for meetings, there tend to be so many issues facing any given community, that each community will be fragmented in their efforts....But there is good news—a possible silver bullet that can streamline our efforts to eradicate the root of the disease, rather than wasting scarce time and precious energy running around fighting symptoms wherever they crop up. That silver bullet is to declare and establish local self-governance at the municipal level according to state constitutional rights, including the right to deny corporations the ability to invade communities and run roughshod over The People.
Mansfield News Journal: Mansfield says well plan likely abandoned
by Linda MartzMansfield News Journal
June 30th, 2012
MANSFIELD -- City officials believe Preferred Fluids Management owner Steve Mobley has abandoned plans to pursue construction of two injection wells in Mansfield...."It would now appear, at least with respect to Mr. Mobley and his company, that they are no longer proceeding with their project," city officials said in a news release. "This result is consistent with the city's goals of preventing injection wells in city limits. "While this appears to be the withdrawal of a company that sought to inject toxic poison into our soil, the city must remain vigilant against other companies, and the citizens of Mansfield must be ever aware of the importance of passing and adopting a Bill of Rights for the city," the news release said.
The Bellingham Herald: Coal train initiative backers will fight Bellingham's lawsuit
by John StarkThe Bellingham Herald
June 30th, 2012
BELLINGHAM - One of the leaders of the anti-coal train initiative campaign says his group will go to court to battle a city lawsuit aimed at keeping the measure off the November ballot. Stoney Bird, the former corporate attorney named as one of the defendants in the city's lawsuit, said he is undaunted by the seemingly overwhelming legal barriers to the initiative. As he sees it, the initiative signed by close to 10,000 people that would establish a "Community Bill of Rights" is a valid way for Bellingham citizens to determine their own environmental destiny. "I think the point is that without the bill of rights, the city does not have tools to protect the health and safety of the citizens," Bird said. "This is an attempt to give them the tools so they can act to provide for the health and safety and welfare of the population."
Yellow Springs News: Group urges setting precedent in opposing oil, gas drilling
by Megan BachmanThe Yellow Springs News
June 28th, 2012
Yellow Springs would be the first community in Ohio to ban oil and gas drilling and waste wells within its municipal limits using a right-based ordinance, if organizers with the local group Gas and Oil Drilling Awareness and Education...have their way. The group will promote the oil and gas drilling legislation it drafted for Yellow Springs Village Council.... The Yellow Springs ordinance would create a "community bill of rights" for both local residents and "natural communities" and subordinate corporate privilege to the rights of people.
The Easton Eccentric: Easton Community Bill of Rights Brought Back to City Council with Changes
by Christina GeorgiouThe Easton Eccentric
June 28th, 2012
Members of the community who are pushing for the City of Easton to pass a Community Bill of Rights intended to curb the power of corporations within the city and elevate the rights of living people above those of corporate entities, considered to be “persons” under current state and federal law, returned to city council Wednesday evening with a revised proposal, entitled “Easton's Community Rights and Protection from Natural Gas Production Ordinance.” The new proposal specifically targets fracking for natural gas, and would make the practice and related practices illegal within city limits and calls for any corporation engaging in gas production practices in neighboring municipalities to be held liable for potential damages to citizens of Easton or its ecosystem. It additionally declares the right of city residents to enjoy the “right to clean air,” the “right to pure water,” the “right to peaceful enjoyment of home,” the “right to be free from trespass” with regard to “the integrity of their bodies,” and a “right to sustainable energy future.” [Note: scroll down to June 28th for full text of blog).
Mansfield News Journal: Plan for fracking waste wells withdrawn
by Linda MartzMansfield News Journal
June 26th, 2012
MANSFIELD — Preferred Fluids Management has withdrawn its proposed site plan for two 5,000-foot-deep injection wells from consideration by the City Planning Commission....“While this withdrawal appears to be a city victory over a company that sought to injection toxic poison into our soil, the city must remain vigilant against other companies,” the news release said....The law director and mayor teamed up in opposition to the proposal to build wells that could accept thousands of gallons of out of state fracking waste. City council approved a proposed charter amendment, to be put before Mansfield voters this fall, for an environmental bill of rights designed to allow the city to veto construction of injection wells.
CELDF's Associate Director Mari Margil authors Legal Rights for Nature - Local to National: How Do We Get There? in Global Exchange's publication Rights of Nature: Planting Seeds of Real Change
by Mari MargilCELDF
June 26th, 2012
Changes in both law and culture are necessary to successfully transform that which we now consider right-less to being a possessor of enforceable legal rights. In the U.S., building such a movement – essential, if we are to achieve true sustainability and survive – will not be top-down. Rather, it will build from the grassroots, as more and more communities join Tamaqua, Pittsburgh, and several dozen others to openly defy existing environmental laws that legalize environmental harm and are causing the collapse of species and ecosystems. As past movements can attest, there is no straight line from right-less to rights-bearing. Yet historic and current rights movements provide numerous lessons for building a national and global movement for nature’s rights. This includes the adoption of law at the local and state level that challenges higher levels of law. That defiance – which frontally takes on current legal and governing structures – defines past rights movements.
The Business Journal: 'Fracktivists' Lobby Youngstown Council for Ban
by Joe GiesyThe Business Journal
June 21st, 2012
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Three “fracktivists” spoke before City Council Wednesday evening in attempts to persuade council members to pass an ordinance banning hydraulic fracturing in Youngstown and in the Meander and Mill Creek watersheds. “We the people are calling on the Youngstown City Council to protect the health, safety and welfare of this community,” said Julia Fuhrman Davis. She, along with Lynn Anderson and Susie Beiersdorfer, urged the council members in three separate addresses to pass the Citizens’ Rights-Based Ordinance banning fracking, as the hydraulic fracturing process is called.
The Hindu: Lethal ingredients in the Rio+20 mocktail
by V. Suresh and N.S. TanviThe Hindu
June 20th, 2012
What the new “Green Economy” is putting forward is the notion that it is because nature and nature’s resources are not “valued” that people abuse nature. The heart of the new UNEP “green economy” paradigm is a corporate-led, evolved and inclusive vision of the future of the planet. This definitional paradigm is, however, destructive, dangerous and damaging. Rio+20: Indigenous peoples march to deliver Kari-Oca Declaration to world leaders
by Brenda NorrellCensored News
June 20th, 2012
Indigenous peoples are gathered at the Kari-Oca 2 Summit in Rio de Janeiro, as the governments and corporate profiteers attempt to place a price on nature as a commodity at the United Nations Rio+20 Conference on Sustainability. The Kari-Oca 2 Declaration will be delivered to world leaders today during a march from the Kari-Oca encampment to the Rio+20 Summit. The declaration states, in part: "We see the goals of UNCSD Rio+20, the 'Green Economy,' and its premise that the world can only 'save' nature by commodifying its life-giving and life-sustaining capacities as a continuation of the colonialism that Indigenous peoples and our Mother Earth have faced and resisted for 520 years... Indigenous activists and leaders defending their territories continue to suffer repression, militarization, including assassination, imprisonment, harassment and vilification as 'terrorists.' The violation of our collective rights faces the same impunity. Forced relocation or assimilation assault our future generations, cultures, languages, spiritual ways and relationship to the earth, economically and politically."
Coal-Free Bellingham: Bellingham City Council Wants to Deny Residents the Right to Vote on Protecting the Community from Coal Trains
by Rick DubrownCoal-Free Bellingham
June 20th, 2012
On Monday evening the Bellingham City Council voted 6-0 to move on a pre-election challenge against citizen initiative 2012-2. The initiative, known as the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights, is asking voters to secure our community’s rights to clean air and water, along with prohibiting coal trains from passing through Bellingham....“The council’s action is an affront to the rights of citizens to directly make law through the initiative process,“ says Rick Dubrow of Coal-Free Bellingham. “This is a right approved by Washington State voters over 100 years ago to ensure the people had the ability to make necessary laws precisely at times that their elected officials were unwilling to do so.”
The Bellingham Herald: Bellingham council seeks court challenge on no-coal-train initiative
by John StarkThe Bellingham Herald
June 19th, 2012
BELLINGHAM - After Coal-Free Bellingham initiative backers turned in about 10,000 signatures for a ballot proposal that would outlaw coal trains in the city, the City Council voted to challenge the validity of the measure in court. Rick Dubrow, one of the leaders of the Coal-Free Bellingham campaign, said the group gathered more than 10,000 signatures - well above the 4,990 legal minimum to get a measure on the November ballot....The initiative campaign began in January 2012, triggered by SSA Marine's proposal for the Gateway Pacific Terminal coal and bulk cargo export pier at Cherry Point that would be fed by trains passing through Bellingham.
CELDF Assists New Mexico Communities to Launch Statewide Coalition to Advocate for Community Rights
New Mexico Coalition for Community Rights
June 18th, 2012
This month, citizens from several New Mexico communities formally launched the New Mexico Coalition for Community Rights (NMCCR) The creation of the New Mexico Coalition follows on the heels of the adoption by the City Council of Las Vegas, New Mexico of the first Community Rights Ordinance in the State. That ordinance creates a Community Bill of Rights and bans natural gas fracking within the municipality. The Coalition will work to support the residents of Las Vegas, New Mexico to enforce their ordinance, and will work to replicate the ordinances across the State of New Mexico. The Coalition will also host trainings across the State for those communities who want to follow the lead of Las Vegas, New Mexico.

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