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rabble.ca: 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.
Shawagunk Journal: Frack No, Residents Say
by Terence P. WardShawagunk Journal
June 14th, 2012
ACCORD – When the Rochester Town Board set a public hearing on a law to ban fracking and related activities in the town, Supervisor Carl Chipman braced himself for controversy. "I figured we'd hear from people on both sides," he said. And given the town's history, he was expecting that sparks might fly. Indeed, the room was packed on the evening of June 7, when Chipman called the public hearing to order. But every person in attendance spoke in support of the law. Board members were thanked and commended by many of the attendees, and the only words of criticism were in favor of making the proposed law still stronger.
The Morning Call: Easton explores citizens' bill of rights
by JD MaloneThe Morning Call
June 14th, 2012
Dennis Lieb just wants what he believes is due every resident of Easton: more decisions made at the local level and fewer handed down from Harrisburg and Washington. He also wants the city to adopt a citizens' bill of rights — a list of demands for self-government: raising people above corporations; the removal of corporations from positions of influence; empowering neighborhoods; protecting the environment; and pretty much telling the state to keep its nose out of Easton's business....The bill of rights outlines nine points ranging from banning corporate influence in elections to rejecting the state's ability to supersede local control. Pittsburgh adopted a community bill of rights last year as part of a ban on natural gas drilling within the city.
Climate & Capitalism: ‘Green economy’ versus the rights of nature
by Pablo SolonClimate & Capitalism
June 7th, 2012
In the period from 1970 to 2008, the Earth System has lost 30% of its biodiversity. In tropical areas, the loss has even been as high as 60%. This is not happening by accident. This is the result of an economic system that treats nature as a thing, as just a source of resources....In an interdependent system in which human beings are only one component of the whole, it is not possible to only recognize the rights of the human part without instigating an imbalance in the system. To guarantee human rights and to restore harmony with nature, it is necessary to effectively recognize and apply the rights of Nature.
Global Exchange: Global Exchange Brings Rights of Nature to the 2012 Earth Summit (Rio+20)
by Shannon BiggsGlobal Exchange People to People Blog
June 7th, 2012
The Green Economy put forward by the United Nations Environment Program (nicknamed the “Greed Economy” by many) is about promoting the idea that we can only “save” nature by putting a price tag on what nature “does” for us....But the human connection to the rest of our living system is not contained in the calculation of the “flow of value to human societies.” Our Earth’s value is not merely that which serves people....Those of us working on the rights-of-nature framework are seeking to reconnect humanity with the rest of species. We seek to change human law that can only “see” nature as a thing — separate and apart from us, property to be owned and destroyed at will. We seek to change the law because our own salvation can only come from a cultural mindset enforced by an earth jurisprudence that we are a part of nature.
Lehigh Valley Live: Lower Mount Bethel Township supervisors to seek legal advice on anti-sludge ordinance - UPDATE
by Andrew GeorgeThe Express Times
June 5th, 2012
The Lower Mount Bethel Township supervisors want advice from their solicitor before moving forward with a proposed ordinance banning sludge. On May 7, supervisors listened to Ben Price, a project director with the Mercersburg, Pa.-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, who informed them of possible steps to prevent the use of sludge, a human waste byproduct, as fertilizer in the township. Price suggested that with the help of his agency, an ordinance could be drafted stressing "rights-based" reasons for why sludge should not be permitted on township farms.
The Maui Weekly: Lecture Explores ‘Rights of Nature’ Perspective
by Trisha SmithThe Maui Weekly
May 31st, 2012
It's no secret the human race has disrupted the Earth's balance, and our global environments remain in serious distress. Western capitalist markets have infected generations with notions of nature as property, and continue to instill laws that solely protect the property rights of individuals and corporations. We would like to think each Hawai'i resident feels deeply connected with nature, and that decisions and ethics are based upon what is good for the whole. Yet, problems today still include where and how the money flows, not the water.
Mail & Guardian: African drive to embrace all life
by Fiona MacLeodMail & Guardian
May 25th, 2012
In South Africa, civil society groups are mobilising around a draft People’s Charter for Africa. Couched in similar form and language to the Freedom Charter, it undertakes “to respect and defend the rights of all beings to fulfil their role within the community of life”. Environmental lawyer Cormac Cullinan, who assisted in drawing up the draft charter, said it was a pan-African version of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. Launched in April 2010 at a people’s congress in Bolivia that was attended by 35 000 delegates, the natural rights approach encapsulated in the universal declaration is gaining force in a rapidly emerging global movement. “People are saying this is what we think needs to be done and we will do it. If governments join us, that’s good, but if not, we will do it ourselves. The same thing happened with apartheid,” Cullinan said.
Las Vegas Optic: Mayor told to sign law or resign
by Martin SalazarLas Vegas Optic
May 24th, 2012
It’s been more than seven weeks since the City Council voted 3-1 to approve an anti-fracking ordinance, but the law has yet to be added to the municipal code book because of the mayor’s refusal to sign it. On Wednesday, supporters of the controversial community rights ordinance showed up en masse to confront Mayor Alfonso Ortiz, telling him he had no authority to block the ordinance and calling on the Council to remove him from office if he refuses to sign it. “It appears that you’re overstepping your boundaries,” Miguel Pacheco said during the public input portion of Wednesday’s City Council meeting. “Mayor, I don’t understand how you can override that vote...,” he later added. “Where’s our democracy?” Lee Einer called the mayor’s action “disgraceful,” alleging that Ortiz is in violation of state law and the city charter and that it constitutes malfeasance. He told Ortiz he needs to sign it or resign....
Philadelphia Inquirer: Op/Ed by CELDF's Ben Price - Fracking spurs a municipal mutiny in Pennsylvania
by Ben Price, Projects Director, CELDFThe Philadelphia Inquirer
May 23rd, 2012
Not content to leave Pennsylvania communities with any control over gas drilling within their borders, state legislators have stripped municipalities of their zoning authority under Act 13, choosing energy corporations over the people who elected them....It’s time we...stopped expecting any other outcome from Harrisburg. It’s time for a grassroots revolt aimed at enshrining the right to community self-government in the Pennsylvania Constitution, protecting local authority from the state. The work begins in our communities, with the adoption of local laws and home-rule charters directly challenging the legal doctrines that subordinate communities to the legislature, as well as the privileges that protect corporations from democracy. More than 100 municipalities across Pennsylvania have begun this journey, elevating the rights of people and communities above the rights of corporations and commerce. These municipalities recognize the need for community rights independent of the legislature and are coming together to form the Pennsylvania Community Rights Network.
Volatility: The CELDF Strategy, and Similar Actions
Volatility
May 19th, 2012
We’re trying to build a new society, and rebuild a natural one, based on Food Sovereignty and true democracy. The negative aspect of this is to abolish corporations and dissolve centralized hierarchies in general. Finding focus on these simple goals is hard enough. But even among those of us who agree on the basic goals, there’s great strategic and tactical uncertainty. We can agree that in the end on bottom-up action, especially direct action, movement-building, and mutual assistance, will work. We can agree that the officially allowed modes of “action”, electoral voting and other passive, process “politics” and consumerism, cannot work. But there’s an array of possible actions while lies somewhere between direct action and kettled process reformism which may, depending on the circumstance, the operational goal, and the execution, lie on the vector toward the great democratic goal. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) strategy for local-level constitutionalism and anti-corporate ordinances is a good example of this.
Eugene Weekly: Right-To-Know About GMOs
by Camilla MortensenEugene Weekly
May 17th, 2012
GMO-Free Oregon wants you to know the dangers of genetically modified crops pose to the food supply and to local farms. The group is launching local and state efforts to stop GMOs from contaminating organic crops and making their way further into the foods Oregonians eat....The effort to protect organics and heritage seed through legislation is a fairly new one, Kai Huschke [community organizer of CELDF] says. He says that given the long history of influence that big money and corporations have on a legal and legislative system that assumes “a corporation’s will is somehow greater than the community’s will” the “only outlet at the moment is to take action at the local level.”
San Francisco Chronicle: Whose Earth is it anyway? Maui series to explore “rights of Nature”
San Francisco Chronicle
May 14th, 2012
The relationship of humans to the natural world — from understanding our origins to dealing with contemporary issues of food security and property rights — will be explored in an intriguing four-part conversation series with Hawaiian and Western scholars and activists, starting tomorrow at Maui Arts & Cultural Center. “Man/Woman and Nature: Restoring the Balance,” presented by MACC and Ala Kukui, begins with “Rights of Nature,” a discussion by Kaua‘i native Kapua Sproat, director of the UH Environmental Law Clinic and counsel for Earthjustice’s Mid-Pacific Office, and Thomas Linzey, co-founder and executive director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.
Lehigh Valley Live: Lower Mount Bethel Township may consider ordinance against further sludge applications
by Andrew GeorgeThe Express Times
May 8th, 2012
Though sludge has made its first appearance on one Lower Mount Bethel Township farm, supervisors may look to a legislative remedy to make sure there's no encore....On Monday night, supervisors listened to a presentation from Ben Price, a project director with the Mercersburg, Pa.-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, who informed them of possible steps to prevent further sludge application in the township....Price told supervisors Monday that with the help of his agency, an ordinance could be drafted stressing "rights-based" reasons for why sludge should not be permitted on township farms. Price argued that if the township believes sludge to be harmful and detrimental to members of its community, an ordinance banning it could be implemented.
Press Action: Declaring a Farm Forever Inviolate of Drilling for Shale Gas
Press Action
May 5th, 2012
Drawing upon this nation’s Declaration of Independence as inspiration, Dr. J. Stephen Cleghorn, co-founder of the 50-acre Paradise Gardens and Farm organic farm that sits above the Marcellus Shale formation, is holding a press conference to declare—in defiance of any established laws which say otherwise—that his farm shall never be violated from above or below by unconventional shale gas drilling. He will seal his declaration upon the scattering of ashes that are all that is left of the farm’s co-founder, his late wife Dr. Lucinda Hart-González, who died of cancer in November 2011....Cleghorn will stand his ground against the corporate tyranny that is poisoning the state’s water and air while sickening its people and animals. “We need a new paradigm for how we live on this Earth,” states Cleghorn. “Let’s have a little rebellion. Individual acts of resistance such as mine are but part of an ongoing movement and organization to create a new foundation of law based on the Rights of Nature.”
Sun News: Broadview Heights City Council hears from Pittsburgh peer on drilling issue
by Scott PatskoSun News
May 3rd, 2012
BROADVIEW HEIGHTS: Doug Shields didn’t stand before Broadview Heights City Council with the famous Nike slogan “Just Do It” emblazoned across his chest. But that was his message. The former Pittsburgh councilman challenged council at its April 30 work session to follow in his footsteps and stand up to state lawmakers who allow oil companies to drill within the city. “The state put a law through that preempted your authority as a municipal official to look after the health, welfare and public safety of this community. So what are you going to do about it?” Shields asked council. “Your citizens in this town have no say over what happens in their back yards.”
Envision Seattle: Pacific Northwest Emerging as a Stronghold for a New Kind of Activism
Envision Seattle
April 26th, 2012
[CELDF note: The Dryden, NY ordinance referred to below is not a rights-based, CELDF drafted ordinance.] There's a new form of activism gaining strength in the Pacific Northwest. Citizen organizers in three Washington cities are gathering signatures to place initiatives on the November ballot that would limit corporate power and elevate peoples' rights above corporate rights: 1) Seattle's Initiative 103 would reverse the impact of Citizens United locally by banning corporate speech in city elections as well as establishing a basic Community Bill of Rights, including rights for nature. 2) Coal Free Bellingham's Prop 2 would strip judge-made "constitutional rights" and establish similar community rights aimed at stopping a massive coal train export operation and deep water shipping terminal. 3) Spokane's gathering signatures for a third effort at making its Community Bill of Rights law. In November 2011, voters narrowly rejected an earlier initiative by less than a thousand votes. All three initiatives have their roots in legal ordinances drafted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF).
Centre Daily Times: Home rule charter vote fails in Rush Township
by Cliff WhiteCentre Daily Times
April 25th, 2012
RUSH TOWNSHIP — A fiercely contested referendum on home rule failed by slightly more than a 100- vote margin in Rush Township. Voters rejected the referendum, which would have formed a government study commission to explore the adoption of a home rule charter, by a count of 502 to 397....Mary Ann Williams, one of the leaders of the campaign to adopt home rule and a candidate for the government study commission, said the defeat was tough to swallow. “...Their win is not a mandate of the people by any means. If you look at the number we lost by, there are clearly some folks who want things to change here.”
SantaFe.com: The Cultural Reemergence of Democracy
by Faren DancerSantaFe.com
April 24th, 2012
In these challenging, if not fascinating, times, there is opportunity for advancing ourselves individually and as a culture. The sense of powerlessness that comes with scarcity, is readily offset by a creative resolve and the reinvention of one’s personal status quo. When it comes to the larger cultural phenomenon of citizens and communities taking back the inherent, inalienable rights upon which our republic was founded, this grassroots effort demonstrates that democracy may be alive and well. The progress toward personal and community empowerment is being driven by what is just and sustainable for the future of our children and our environment....The CELDF mission is to change the very fabric of our constitutional law, whereas communities, municipalities and local citizens would have the ultimate control over their own land, resources, water tables, watersheds, lakes and streams. Doesn’t this sound like the way it should be?
Centre Daily Times: Rush Twp. to decide home rule
by Cliff WhiteCentre Daily Times
April 24th, 2012
One of Centre County’s biggest election day battles is taking place in Rush Township, where voters will decide whether they wish to convene a government study commission to explore implementation of a home rule charter. The 1972 Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans Law gives Pennsylvania’s municipalities the option to adopt a home rule charter, a form of governance that would give Rush Township additional powers to make local decisions. All registered voters in Rush Township will see the following referendum question on their ballots today: “Shall a government study commission of seven members be elected to study the existing form of government of the municipality, to consider the advisability of the adoption of a home rule charter; and if advisable, to draft and to recommend a home rule charter?”
Corrente: Home rule goes up against the fracking industry - and the political system
Corrente
April 19th, 2012
The fight against fracking in Ohio comes at a time when the state is approving new wells at a rapid pace. Local activists are organizing in an environment where the ground is constantly shifting under their feet - sometimes literally. Anti-fracking activism has been influenced by developments both inside the state and beyond. At a recent public anti-fracking meeting a representative from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) described the experience of activists in western Pennsylvania several years ago.
Woodstock Times: Olive slaps down fracking, Agrees on moratorium
by Paul SmartWoodstock Times
April 15th, 2012
The Town of Olive saw its meeting hall packed for its monthly meeting Tuesday night, April 10. And everyone left happy, according to the town’s Secretary to the Supervisor, Susan Horner. What drew the crowd was a resolution, passed unanimously, to place a moratorium on the natural gas extraction process known as hydrofracking, or “fracking” as it’s become commonly known, so the Olive town board could then study other, more permanent legislation to protect it....The options that ODAF presented at the April 2 and April 10 meetings included a Community Bill of Rights, advocated and defended by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), and stressing civil rights issues in a community’s banning of fracking and similar industrialized processes.
CELDF Press Release: Las Vegas, New Mexico, Adopts Community Bill of Rights; Bans Corporations from Fracking for Shale Gas
by CELDF
April 15th, 2012
(Monday, April 2, 2012- Las Vegas, NM) In front of a standing-room only crowd of residents, by a vote of 3-1, the City Council, Las Vegas, New Mexico enacted the Las Vegas Community Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance, drafted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, which places into law a local Bill of Rights, including the right of all residents, natural communities and ecosystems to water from natural sources, the right of residents to unpolluted water for use in agriculture, the rights of natural ecosystems to exist and flourish, and of residents to protect their environment by enforcing these rights. Also enumerated is the right to a sustainable energy future, and the right to local self-government.
The Light of New Mexico: LV Community Rights / Fracking ordinance unsigned
by Lee EinerThe Light of New Mexico
April 11th, 2012
Las Vegas’ mayor publicly supports Community Rights Ordinance while working behind the scenes to kill it. The city of Las Vegas, NM was considering passage of a popular ordinance shortly before a runoff election between the seated mayor, Alfonso Ortiz, and city councilman Tonita Gurule-Giron. Opposing the ordinance publicly would cost votes in a close electoral race. What to do? The answer, apparently, was to publicly support the ordinance while working behind the scenes to kill it, or at least postpone the vote for passage until after the April 17th election—even if that meant quietly violating the directives of the city council.
Centre Daily Times: Home rule vote divides community
by Cliff WhiteCentre Daily Times
April 9th, 2012
RUSH TOWNSHIP — Political yard signs dot the lawns of most of the houses along the twisting road between Black Moshannon State Park and Philipsburg. In some cases, neighbors have put up signs directly facing each other, revealing an issue that has touched a nerve among residents in this large and sparsely populated municipality. On April 24, the date of Pennsylvania’s primary, residents will decide which side of the fence they stand on when it comes to home rule, a form of governance that would give Rush Township additional powers to make local decisions. “Home rule is a concept based on giving the people more of a direct say in the decisions the township makes,” said Joe Matson, a candidate for the government study commission that will be formed if residents approve the home rule referendum. “Whatever issues Rush Township faces down the road, people will be empowered to have a direct chance to say yes or no.”
ABQ Journal: N.M. Town Targets ‘Fracking’
by Mark OswaldABQ Journal
April 6th, 2012
SANTA FE – Its own lawyer calls the move unconstitutional; its insurer says it may not be able to offer coverage for a legal battle. Despite those objections, the Las Vegas, N.M., City Council passed an ordinance targeting “fracking” that bans drilling for oil or gas within the city limits or the Las Vegas watershed....The Las Vegas ordinance is called the Las Vegas Community Bill of Rights and Local Self-Governance Ordinance. Among the rights asserted in the ordinance are rights to water and to water for agriculture, “rights of natural communities,” “right to a sustainable energy future,” and the right to self-government.
WKSU 89.7: Kent City Council wants answers on fracking
by Kabir BhatiaWKSU 89.7
April 5th, 2012
...The debate over the oil and gas drilling process known as fracking has dominated rural areas of Ohio for more than a year. Now it is showing up in cities as well. Mayor Jerry Fiala said last week he did not think any property owners in Kent had signed leases with drillers. Then came calls through the week from leaseholders. And that led Frack Free Kent and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund to put together an ordinance presented to city council at last night’s meeting. Frack Free Kent organizer, and Kent resident, Ellen Carvill-Ziemer says the Defense Fund has had some success mounting similar ordinances fashioned as bills of rights in the past.
Las Vegas Optic: Letters to the Editor
Las Vegas Optic
April 5th, 2012
The Las Vegas City Council made an historical vote in northern New Mexico this week, passing the Las Vegas Community Bill of Rights and Local Self-Governance Ordinance. Read here to learn what New Mexicans are saying about the Council's action, some history on how the ordinance got to Las Vegas, and next steps.
The Light of New Mexico: Community bill of rights bans fracking
by Kathleen DudleyThe Light of New Mexico
April 4th, 2012
A victory for nature, human rights and democracy was celebrated in Las Vegas, New Mexico, on April 2, when the city council passed an historic law that exerts protective rights to all residents, natural communities, ecosystems and its watersheds—and bans fracking within the City of Las Vegas. The process to enact the Las Vegas Community Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance has proven to be a roller coaster ride from one council meeting to another, beginning in February. Opposition was voiced extensively by the Las Vegas city administration at the 11th hour, with both the mayor and city attorney claiming illegalities and predicting lawsuits, as they tried to equate balancing budgets and guarding the city from legal action with protecting life and nature.
Las Vegas Optic: Anti-fracking law adopted
by Martin SalazarLas Vegas Optic
April 3rd, 2012
Setting aside the grave concerns raised by its legal counsel and its insurer, the Las Vegas City Council voted 3-1 on Monday to approve a community bill of rights ordinance, becoming the first municipality in the state to do so....The ordinance seeks to elevate the civil rights of the community and of its natural resources while limiting the rights currently enjoyed by corporations. A standing-room-only crowd was on hand at the council chambers to witness the vote, and most of them applauded when the measure passed. “This is a historic moment for Vegas, and it may face legal challenges but that’s how you start changing federal law,” [Councilperson] Feldman said after the meeting. “I feel really passionately that our rights are being trampled at the expense of corporations for profit and that the ... citizens in this country need to start taking back their rights. This is where it starts, in a grassroots effort.”
Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter: Las Vegas, N.M., endorses community rights
by Kathleen DudleySierra Club Rio Grande Chapter
April 2nd, 2012
The first day of spring was an auspicious day for the Las Vegas City Council to make history. It was a victory for the people and for democracy....The room was packed with more than 75 people from five New Mexico counties — as far away as Bernalillo County. They came in solidarity....The Ordinance asserts a “Community Bill of Rights,” including the right of all residents, natural communities and ecosystems to water from natural sources, the right of residents to unpolluted water for use in agriculture, the rights of natural ecosystems to exist and flourish and of residents to protect their environment by enforcing these rights. Also enumerated is the right to a sustainable energy future, and the right to local self-government. It prohibits any harm to these inalienable rights through oil, gas and hydraulic fracturing.
Wisdom Voices: Thomas Linzey - "We're beginning to awake from our slumber"
by Joanne BoyerWisdom Voices
April 1st, 2012
Grassroots organizing. Local communities reinserting themselves into the decision making process that impacts their communities. “We the People” reclaiming our role in democracy. Those elements serve as the most effective tools at our disposal today to fight the environmental battles of the 21st century says Thomas Linzey, Executive Director and co-founder of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. “There cannot be sustainability unless people who are impacted by certain decisions are actually making the decisions about what impacts their communities,” Linzey said in a recent interview with Wisdom Voices.
Las Vegas Optic: Letters to the Editor
Las Vegas Optic
March 30th, 2012
On Monday, April 2nd, the Las Vegas, New Mexico City Council will place an historic vote on whether or not to pass a Community Rights Ordinance that recognizes the right of the community to protect their water, air, and the rights of nature by banning shale gas drilling and fracking and removing corporate privileges. Read here to learn what community members are saying about the the Las Vegas Community Bill of Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance.
Recordpub.com: Kent residents push for ban on fracking (poll)
by Thomas GallickRecordpub.com
March 29th, 2012
Kent City Council agreed to discuss the possibility of banning hydraulic fracturing within city limits in committee after a large group of residents brought their concerns and a proposed ordinance to council Wednesday. “We’re asking you to give this proposed ordinance serious consideration because it’s the only way we can think of to defend and protect our waterways here in Kent from the terrible pollution caused by fracking,” said the Rev. Melissa Carvill-Ziemer of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent. The proposed ordinance Carvill-Ziemer referred to, which anti-fracking activists presented to council, is known as the “Kent Community Protection from Shale Gas Extraction Ordinance.” The ordinance would “...(ban) the unconventional extraction of shale gas within the City, along with associated activities, because that extraction violates the civil rights of Kent residents and because it threatens the health, safety and welfare of the residents and neighborhoods of Kent.”
Read the Dirt: The Right to Self-Govern
by Kai HuschkeRead the Dirt
March 29th, 2012
The citizen-lead coalition that is Envision Spokane has been in a seven-year battle. That effort continues today with the very narrow defeat of Proposition 1 in 2011. You see, for the last 100 years in Spokane corporate developers have had more rights than neighborhood residents, corporate polluters have had more rights than the Spokane River, and corporate employers have had more rights than workers. The sum total of that reality is that corporations have more rights than the City of Spokane and its residents. And guess what, Spokane is not alone, step into any community and you will see this same scenario playing out....Envision Spokane’s effort to adopt a Community Bill of Rights in Spokane represents a fundamental shift in how government should operate. It is about democratizing the key values of the community and making sure residents decide on whether they want significant developments in their neighborhoods, that residents can protect the health of the Spokane River and aquifer, and that workers rights are not trampled upon.
Las Vegas Optic: Layer: Fracking law illegal; Backers say ordinance best way to keep water safe
by Martin SalazarLas Vegas Optic
March 29th, 2012
Proponents of an anti-fracking ordinance being proposed for the city of Las Vegas say it’s the best way to protect the community and keep our water from being poisoned. And while a number of municipalities around the nation, including Pittsburgh, have already adopted similar laws, no community in the state has passed such an ordinance, giving Las Vegas the opportunity to make history in New Mexico. The ordinance seeks to elevate the civil rights of the community and of its natural resources while limiting the rights currently enjoyed by corporations.
Kent Patch: Anti-Fracking Group asks City for Law Banning Controversial Drilling Practice
by Matt FredmonskyKent Patch
March 29th, 2012
After 30 minutes of stating their case, supporters of an anti-fracking law in Kent got their wish partly fulfilled Wednesday night. Supporters of a ban on fracking asked Kent City Council members to consider establishing an [CELDF-drafted] ordinance banning the controversial method of drilling for natural gas within city limits. Council members listened to 30 minutes of testimony from residents who support the ban before Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala asked if anyone on council wanted to consider making a motion on the issue. Councilwoman Tracy Wallach moved to put the issue — and the proposed draft ordinance — on the agenda for council's April 4 committee meeting. Council voted unanimously to put the issue on next week's agenda.
Centre Daily Times Opinion - Your Letters: Give the voters more control
by Peggy L. MillerCentre Daily Times
March 28th, 2012
In response to Tuesday’s letters to the editor about home rule charter in Rush Township, the taxpayers would be fools, according to Pat Couturiaux, if they did not vote to approve home rule. Kudos for Couturiaux; he has really shown his ignorance. People have died so we all can have a say in what happens in our lives, so get out and vote for home rule April 24 and control what happens in your front yard.
Centre Daily Times Opinion - Your Letters: Don’t fix it; it’s not broken
by Paul ShannonCentre Daily Times
March 28th, 2012
The April 24 primary election will have a question on the ballot for Rush Township residents: Should Rush Township change to a home rule type of government? The response must be, “Why?”
CBS Pittsburgh: City Council Considers Suing State Over Act 13
CBS Pittsburgh
March 27th, 2012
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Lincoln Place, opposition to Act 13 is strong. “I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that money can buy politicians, politicians can make laws and laws can ruin people’s lives,” Mark Schneider, of Lincoln Place, said. “I think Act 13 is a poorly written bill that completely usurps local authority,” City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, D-Carrick, said.
The Gateway News: Fracking Event Today at King Glory Church
The Gateway News
March 25th, 2012
A Shalersville group will host a meeting to discuss protection for water, air and land from hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for natural gas at 7 p.m. this evening at the King of Glory Church, 1667 Route 303, next to the Streetsboro Post Office. The meeting has been organized by Shalersville residents concerned about the exploration well to be drilled at the intersection of Webb and Infirmary Roads. Presenters will include two residents, who will explain fracking and gas industry regulations, and a speaker from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization that helps residents fight environmental hazards.
Centre Daily Times: Battle brews over referendum
by Cliff WhiteCentre Daily Times
March 22nd, 2012
A disagreement regarding how best to protect Rush Township’s water from Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling has created a political fracture destined to spill over into April’s primary. Rush for Clean Water, an environmental group pushing for a ban on gas drilling, has acquired enough signatures to place a home rule charter referendum on April’s ballot. If approved, the initiative would create a commission to explore possible changes to the township’s existing form of government. The primary goal of the home rule movement, according to one of its chief proponents, is to let the township’s residents decide directly whether to enact a drilling ban. “It will give more voice to the people, so supervisors cannot have the final say,” said Mary Ann Williams, a Rush Township resident and leader of Rush for Clean Water.
CELDF Press Release: Residents of Plymouth, New Hampshire Vote to Ban Land Acquisition for Northern Pass
by CELDF
March 17th, 2012
“The Ordinance passed!” exclaimed Peter Martin, resident of Plymouth, New Hampshire. The vote followed a several month long campaign to educate residents and elected officials who live in the college town, nestled in the foothills of the White Mountains. ”We are very relieved and extremely pleased, that Plymouth has joined the towns of Easton and Sugar Hill in adopting a Community Bill of Rights Ordinance.”
Cleveland.com: Broadview Heights officials discussing ways to halt 'fracking'
by Tara QuinnCleveland.com
March 14th, 2012
BROADVIEW HEIGHTS — Law Director Vince Ruffa is reviewing a resolution to limit hydraulic fracturing in the city. Councilman-at-large Jim Giomini, who started the discussion at the March 12 City Council meeting, says he and his fellow council members are hoping legislation banning “fracking” in Pittsburgh, Pa. will work in Broadview Heights....Mothers Against Drilling In Our Neighborhoods (MADION) sent out a press release applauding the city for taking this step. “This legislation takes an approach that residents in the community have ‘rights’ under the Ohio Constitution and the Ohio Revised Code and that corporation profits do not supersede these rights. Besides violating residents’ civil rights, drilling also threatens the health, safety and welfare of the residents and neighborhoods of Broadview Heights.”
CELDF Press Release: Residents of Easton and Sugar Hill, New Hampshire Vote Unanimously to Ban Land Acquisition for Northern Pass
by CELDF
March 14th, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 ( Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - Easton and Sugar Hill, NH) A local law to establish a Bill of Rights which recognizes and secures the civil and political rights of residents, known as the Town of Easton's Right to a Sustainable Energy Future and Community Self-Government Ordinance, was enacted tonight by all voters at their annual Town Meeting. The Town of Sugar Hill followed suit about an hour later, to enact the ordinance with unanimous voter support. The rights-based Ordinance bans land acquisition necessary for the construction or siting of unsustainable energy systems by corporations - activities that would violate the community Bill of Rights.
AlterNet: How an Anti-Democratic, Corporate-Friendly Pennsylvania Law Has Elevated the Battle Over Fracking to a Civil Rights Fight
by Steven RosenfeldAlterNet
March 13th, 2012
In a handful of communities in eastern states, local anti-fracking activists have been heartened by recent lower court decisions that have upheld local zoning ordinances and statewide moratoriums to keep the controversial natural gas wells out of their towns. But in Pennsylvania, the epicenter of the controversial drilling, the legislature recently stripped all local zoning authority to prevent drilling, overturning the kinds of steps that have frustrated drillers in neighboring states. As a result, a different and riskier strategy is emerging in the battle to keep drilling at bay: local ordinances and organizing elevating the civil rights of communities and nature while limiting the legal rights of corporations.
Union Leader: Northern Pass shows up on a dozen ballots
by Paula Tracy & Bob HookwayUnion Leader
March 12th, 2012
Voters in a dozen towns along the proposed route of the Northern Pass transmission line will consider measures this week designed to prevent such projects from being developed in their communities. Sugar Hill, Easton, Lancaster, Plymouth, Northfield and Holderness will vote at town meeting on petitioned ordinances that would remove the legal powers of energy corporations to buy land in those towns....As part of their efforts, some Northern Pass opponents are pinning their hopes on “rights-based'' ordinances. The rights-based ordinance challenges the position of the U.S. Supreme Court that corporations are individuals and under the 14th Amendment are guaranteed equal protection.....SNOPAC member Nancy Martland said the town's rights-based ordinance “gives us some control over what happens in our town regarding the siting of corporate energy facilities, which we don't currently have. This claim is based in the constitutional right to self-government.”
Press Action: Environmental Defense Fund Stays Loyal to Natural Gas Industry
Press Action
March 11th, 2012
Soon after taking over as leader of the Sierra Club, Michael Brune recognized the environmental organization was facing a credibility crisis. Former Executive Director Carl Pope had developed cozy relationships with Corporate America, including Chesapeake Energy Corp., a major U.S. natural gas producer....Thomas Linzey, executive director and co-founder of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, noted in a speech last November that residents in communities affected by natural gas drilling are beginning to realize that their concerns will not be addressed by contacting state regulators or enlisting a big environmental group. A more effective strategy involves fighting back at the community level.
New Hampshire Public Radio: Northern Pass Foes Eye New Tactic: Attacking Corporate Power
by Chris JensenNew Hampshire Public Radio
March 9th, 2012
Northern Pass opponents have won what they see they see as a victory in their fight against the huge hydro-electric project. The legislature has now passed a bill that makes it hard if not impossible for Northern Pass to use eminent domain to take the land it needs for its transmission towers. But some opponents aren’t stopping there. “We really need to take care of our beautiful state and so we are just going to seek every way we can to do it and winning today on eminent domain does not mean that we are going to top.” That’s Dolly McPhaul of Sugar Hill, which continuing the fight. “As it is right now if a corporation gets a permit from the state they can do anything they want to our town.” Sugar Hill is among a handful of North Country towns considering what’s called a rights-based ordinance. Such an ordinance declares that people have the right to say “no” to big corporations.
AlterNet: Fracking Democracy: Why Pennsylvania's Act 13 May Be the Nation's Worst Corporate Giveaway
by Steven RosenfeldAlterNet
March 7th, 2012
Pennsylvania, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed and where the U.S. coal, oil and nuclear industries began, has adopted what may be the most anti-democratic, anti-environmental law in the country, giving gas companies the right to drill anywhere, overturn local zoning laws, seize private property and muzzle physicians from disclosing specific health impacts from drilling fluids on patients....“It’s absolutely crushing of local self-government,” said Ben Price, project director for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, which has helped a handful of local communities—including the city of Pittsburgh—adopt community rights ordinances that elevate the rights of nature and people to block the drilling. “The state has surrendered over 2,000 municipalities to the industry. It’s a complete capitulation of the rights of the people and their right to self-government. They are handing it over to the industry to let them govern us. It is the corporate state. That is how we look at it.”
Be The Change USA: CELDF Draws Capacity Crowd to Democracy School
Be The Change USA
March 6th, 2012
On the last weekend in February, 24 students from across Colorado participated in CELDF’s Democracy School workshop sponsored by Be the Change USA. Lead by Ben Price and Emelyn Lybarger, the class covered strategies for activists who want to defend their communities against fracking and other environmentally destructive industries. The trainers described why the regulatory path to control is not only ineffective, but counter productive.
Concord Monitor: New push in Northern Pass fight
by Annmarie Timmins Concord Monitor
March 4th, 2012
Last March, nearly 30 communities used their town meetings to register firm but nonbinding objections to Northern Pass. This year, a handful of towns will consider a stronger stance: adopting a "home rule" ordinance that says local communities can block a project like Northern Pass even if it has federal and state approval....Federal energy regulators are still taking comments on the proposed project, and many across the state have responded. It's those who fear their comments will carry no weight with regulators who are backing the proposed home rule ordinance. Mary Lee of Northfield, who collected enough signatures to get the ordinance on her town warrant, is one of them. "I am convinced that the local level is the only level where I have any power," she said. Her house sits along the 1.5-mile proposed route through Northfield. "If this is really the Live Free or Die State, we should have local control."
Earth Island Journal: Natural Law - From Rural Pennsylvania to South America, a Global Alliance is Promoting the Idea that Ecosystems Have Intrinsic Rights
by Jason MarkEarth Island Journal
March 1st, 2012
Cathy Miorelli doesn’t think of herself as an environmentalist. When Miorelli decided to run for the city council of Tamaqua Borough – a small town in central Pennsylvania where she has lived her entire life – she didn’t have any sort of eco-agenda. It was 2004, and the hottest controversy in Tamaqua involved a proposal by an outside company to dump sewage sludge and coal fly ash into abandoned mining pits on the edge of town....“I was just concerned about everything overall, not really so much the environment,” says Miorelli....“You know, I didn’t run on any kind of platform, saying that I was going to change the world here or anything.” She did change the world, though. Halfway through her one-term stint on the council, Miorelli spearheaded the passage of an anti-sewage sludge ordinance that included a provision recognizing the rights of “natural communities” to flourish – the first law of its kind in the world.
The Bellingham Herald: WHATCOM VIEW: Community Bill of Rights seeks to shift balance of power
by Stoney BirdThe Bellingham Herald
February 29th, 2012
There are two basic reasons why we need a Community Bill of Rights in Bellingham to protect us from the current plans of SSA Marine, Goldman Sachs, BNSF Rail and Peabody Coal. No. 1 reason: In our present system, corporate boards of directors have decision-making powers about projects that override the rights of local citizens. The second reason is that the environmental laws - written by the corporate interests - are basically there to grant permits. In other words, the cards are stacked in favor of harmful projects getting approved....We're proposing the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights so that that the people of Bellingham get to decide what happens here in Bellingham. The initiative is a model for what other communities can do, too.
The Green Times: Fight for the Rights of Mother Earth
The Green Times
February 25th, 2012
Become part of the urgent declaration for the rights of Mother Earth. The Rights of Nature is emerging as one of the key alternatives to what many critics call severe shortcomings in the current draft proposals centering on a new Green Economy – RIO+20’s main theme to take forward the initiatives of the 1992 Earth Summit. At the recent World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil there were appeals for taking hands across the globe to further the work of alternatives such as the Rights of Nature and Restoration of the Commons to counterbalance the current trend to commodify and marketise ecosystems and nature as a way of combatting climate change. In addition, several recent case studies have shown that communities and lawyers had been able to fight back the vast powers of multi-national companies to exploit their natural resources by applying the concepts of the Rights of Nature.
Your South Hills: Bill to eliminate drilling restrictions
by Stephanie HackeYour South Hills
February 23rd, 2012
A ban on natural gas drilling through Marcellus shale is needed now more than ever in Whitehall Borough, some residents say. And local officials agree its time to take a stand against the growing industry. Gov. Tom Corbett last week signed House Bill 1950 into law, which sets state standards and eliminates local zoning regulations for drilling....A different approach to restricting drilling natural gas through Marcellus shale would be to ban it, asserting rights the state constitution provides for residents, including clean air and water, Scholl said. Baldwin Borough and Pittsburgh passed similar bans last year. "It rests on a completely different argument — that we're essentially not going to surrender our rights to a safe environment, to a safe community, because the state says so," Scholl said.
Press Zoom: WWU's Huxley College Speaker Series to Host Stoney Bird and Rick Dubrow Feb. 24
PressZoom
February 22nd, 2012
Stoney Bird and Rick Dubrow, the respective chair and vice chair of the No Coal Political Action Committee, will present "Our Right to Decide! Why We Need the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights to Stop the Coal Trains"....Four decades have been given to the regulatory system to restore environmental quality, but that approach is failing by nearly all measures. A rights-based approach, championed by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), protects 140 municipalities from further impact. Such ordinances ban a threatened impact rather than simply "mitigating" it into an impact with a green veneer. Using this model, the No Coal PAC hopes to stop coal trains from harming Bellingham and the region.
WKBN 27: Beaver Township Residents Circulating Anti-Drilling Petition
WKBN 27
February 22nd, 2012
[Beaver Twsp, OH] A group of Beaver Township residents is telling local and state officials they don't want fracking or injection wells in their backyards. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit group that helped residents in Pittsburgh ban hydraulic fracturing there in November 2010. Now, a grassroots group of citizens hopes CELDF can help them do the same, right across the state line. "This is not about regulation, this is about rights," said Julia Fuhrman Davis, a member of the Beaver Township residents' CELDF group. Beaver Township residents are collecting signatures for a petition urging trustees to ban all hydraulic fracturing and injection well activity in their township....
Fertile Ground: Bellingham, Washington Launches Campaign for Rights of Nature Over Rights of Corporations
Fertile Ground
February 21st, 2012
The community of Bellingham, Washington, has launched a campaign that seeks to revoke the supremacy of corporate rights over the local municipality. Its goal is to reassert the rights of nature as a necessity for the continued survival of the human community, and block the construction of a massive coal-export terminal proposed for the region. The initiative is using an innovative model developed by the Community Legal Environmental Defense Fund, a law firm that specializes in this sort of radical experiment in local democracy. This is a huge step forward for community organizing. It directly addresses the systems of oppressive power that are destroying the planet.
Salem News: Residents looking to ban fracking
by Kevin HowellSalem News
February 20th, 2012
NORTH LIMA- Beaver Township residents concerned about fracture drilling and injection wells in Ohio have enlisted the aid of a Pennsylvania-based organization to ban the activities in the area. The Beaver Township CELDF [sic] Group is working with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) to develop a community rights resolution to ban hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") and injection well deposits in the township.
New Hampshire Public Radio: Northern Pass Foes Eye New Tactic: Attacking Corporate Power
by Chris JensenNew Hampshire Public Radio
February 9th, 2012
North Country, NH - Town meetings begin next month. One issue some towns are looking at is a radical new tactic ultimately designed to challenge the legal power of corporations. Opponents of the Northern Pass hydroelectric project are at the forefront of the move....Sugar Hill is among a handful of North Country towns considering what’s called a rights-based ordinance. Such an ordinance declares that people have the right to say “no” to big corporations.
Daily Freeman: New Paltz group calls on town to ban hydrofracking (with text of proposed law)
by William J. KembleDaily Freeman
February 8th, 2012
NEW PALTZ, N.Y. — The Town Board will be asked by a citizens’ group called New Paltz Defense Against Fracking to ban hydraulic drilling for natural gas in the town based on civil rights concerns. The proposed law will be presented during the board meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16 in the Town Hall on state Route 32. New Paltz Defense Against Fracking spokeswoman Michele Riddell said the proposal addresses health, safety and welfare threats from the gas-drilling process known as horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking. “What we’re interested in doing is passing a civil rights-based ordinance, which is a law will protect us from the oil and gas industry in our neighborhood,” Riddell said.
Daily Kos: Can a community defy a cabal of multi-national corporations?
by James WellsDaily Kos
February 8th, 2012
Conventional wisdom says no. Their elephant feet will simply stomp you. Armed with lawyers, guns, and money, they will have their way. But maybe it is possible to be fast enough, nimble enough, and most of all, persuasive enough, that the Mumakil will be bewildered and will run off. Maybe CW does not cover all possibilities....Despite diligent efforts by the terminal project planners to bully and fool us into participating in our own destruction, this proposal has galvanized opposition, starting locally in the vicinity of the nearest sizeable town of Bellingham WA, and now spreading along the entire transit route.
Record Pub: GALLERY: Randolph residents want fracking ban
by Diane SmithRecord Pub
February 3rd, 2012
[Randolph Twp, Ohio] About 120 residents gathered again at the Randolph Community Center, this time to hear the merits of a “community bill of rights” that would ban “unconventional extraction of shale gas” in Randolph. The forum was sponsored by the grassroots group Preserve Rural Randolph. Newt Engle said he was bothered by the township’s official position, which is that the state, not the township, has the only control over the horizontal drilling process known as “fracking”....The resolution states that it seeks to ban the drilling practice “because that extraction cannot be achieved without violating the rights of residents and communities or endangering their health, safety and welfare.” The resolution, it states, removes “certain legal powers” from drilling companies, “nullifies state laws, permits, and other authorizations” and “imposes liabilities and fines.”
The Citizen of Laconia: Lawyer advocates for municipal rights during presentation
by Tink TaylorThe Citizen of Laconia
January 27th, 2012
PLYMOUTH — With some area towns to consider petitioned warrant articles re-asserting the rights of municipalities at their upcoming town meetings, a Pennsylvania attorney on Thursday told a capacity gathering at Pease Library that they needn’t accept things as they are. “The only place democracy seems to exist today is around the kitchen table,” said Thomas Linzey of Mercersburg, Penn., who represents the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund and was speaking to community activists gathered at the library. Linzey was invited to speak at the library at the invitation of local Northern Pass project opponents who are concerned their efforts may be overridden by corporate interests.
The Western Front: PAC wants Bellingham to adopt a Bill of Rights
by Natalie Groat and Lisa RemyThe Western Front
January 27th, 2012
The No Coal! Political Action Committee kicked off a new campaign for a “Bill of Rights,” which would ban “activities related to the transportation of coal.” The committee held an event to showcase their new Bill of Rights on Jan. 26. More than 100 people from the community flocked to the Squalicum Boathouse at Zuanich Point Park, leaving latecomers standing....If passed by city officials, the initiative would become an ordinance, said Terry Garrett, a member of No Coal! The group is also collecting signatures in hopes of putting an initiative on the November ballot. The Bill of Rights “removes legal ‘powers’ and ‘rights’ from those Corporations to ensure that the powers and rights of the community are superior to the ‘powers’ and ‘rights’ claimed by those Corporations.”
Discovery News: Mother Nature Gets Her Day in Court
by Tim WallDiscovery News
January 27th, 2012
Ecuador and Bolivia granted legal rights to the environment within the past few years. But what are those rights and can they really be enforced? "The rights of nature laws recognize the rights of ecosystems and natural communities to exist, to flourish, to regenerate, and to evolve," Mari Margil, associate director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), told Discovery News. CELDF helped Ecuador write the rights of nature into legal reality. "The rights of nature laws move nature from being considered 'property' under the law to being recognized as 'rights bearing' under the law," said Margil. But laws are nothing but ink on paper if not enforced. A court case in Ecuador showed that these Earth friendly laws have claws and aren't just idealistic public relations legislation.
The Bellingham Herald: Hundreds turn out to launch Bellingham anti-coal train initiative
by John StarkThe Bellingham Herald
January 26th, 2012
BELLINGHAM - With a musical kickoff from bandZandt singing "No Coal Trains," local activists launched their "Coal-Free Bellingham" campaign for a citizen initiative to outlaw coal trains through a city ordinance....At Thursday's well-scripted event, they argued that the existing regulatory process typically results in granting a corporation the legal right to harm the environment. "What we are launching today is an initiative campaign through which the people of Bellingham will reassert their right to govern themselves," said organizer Rick Dubrow. "Our aim is to bring a new tool to this work, one that addresses the legal framework that allows those harms to be inflicted on us."
Santa Monica Daily Press: Council supports rights of environment, corporations
by Ashley ArchibaldSanta Monica Daily News
January 25th, 2012
CITY HALL — A dual measure before the City Council Tuesday to support legal protections for the environment and end corporate personhood got a split response from elected officials who enthusiastically supported a healthy environment but watered down the call to restrict rights to living beings. Council members unanimously passed a resolution backing a bill of rights for the environment, which would give legal standing to city officials to protect the environment within Santa Monica's borders if passed as a law in the future.
Santa Monica Patch: Council Moves Toward Making 'Green' Goals Mandatory
by Jenna ChandlerSanta Monica Patch
January 25th, 2012
In the near future, Santa Monica residents might find that the city's goals such as those aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption are legally mandated. With overwhelming support from high school clubs, neighborhood and grass-roots organizations, and environmental activists, the City Council voted Tuesday night to look into giving teeth to a voluntary "sustainable-city plan." It approved a resolution declaring that in conjunction with revising its six-year-old sustainability plan, it would draft this year policies that would allow residents and the city to sue to protect local, natural resources threatened by corporations. The resolution is also the first step toward enacting a "Sustainability Bill of Rights," written and approved in June by the Task Force on the Environment.
Santa Monica Lookout: Santa Monica Adopts Sustainability Bill of Rights, Rejects Motion for Constitutional Amendment
by Jason IslasSanta Monica Lookout
January 25th, 2012
Santa Monica's City Council voted on Tuesday to recognize the rights of natural communities to exist. The resolution, drafted by the Task Force on the Environment, calls for Santa Monica to “recognize the rights of people, natural communities, and ecosystems to exist, regenerate and flourish,” according to City Staff. Dean Kubani, director of the Office of Sustainability and the Environment, said that the declaration acknowledges “the rights of Santa Monica residents to clean water, clean air” and other aspects of a clean environment. The resolution, which passed unanimously, would be the first step toward establishing legislation in the City that supports the goals it outlines.
WFMJ: Grassroots effort against fracking in Beaver Township
WFMJ
January 25th, 2012
BEAVER TOWNSHIP, Ohio - A group of concerned citizens crowded into the Beaver Township Administration building Tuesday night to discuss a grassroots effort against fracking and brine injection wells. North Lima resident Julia Fuhrman Davis organized the meeting to form a core group of people to work with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. In light of potential health and environmental risks, the group plans to come up with a resolution and a petition to prohibit fracking and brine injection wells.
Santa Monica Patch: Tonight: Admonishing 'Corporate Personhood'
by Jenna ChandlerSanta Monica Patch
January 24th, 2012
Santa Monica might jump aboard the anti-corporate personhood bandwagon Tuesday night....It will weigh moving forward on whether to adopt a "Sustainability Bill of Rights" for Santa Monica....The first local law recognizing the rights of nature was adopted in 2006 in Tamaqua Borough, PN [sic]. In December 2010, Pittsburgh became the first major city in the United States to adopt a community bill of rights that bans corporations from drilling natural gas within its city limits, putting the rights of people, the community, and nature over corporations.
Truthout: How Can Communities Defend Themselves From Corporate Interests?
by Rose AguilarTruthout
January 23rd, 2012
Why isn't activism working? It's not for lack of trying, says self-described recovering environmental attorney Thomas Linzey. The environmental community has created a slew of environmental laws and launched an alphabet soup of environmental regulatory agencies, but what do they really do? Linzey says they merely regulate the level of harm and amount of poisons that can be legally injected into our water, soil and air; they're not designed to stop it. In the new book, "Be The Change: How to Get What You Want in Your Community," Thomas Linzey and Anneke Campbell, an environmental justice documentary filmmaker, argue that it's time to stop begging the government and corporations to cause less harm. It's time to replace corporate minority decision-making with community self-government.
Salon: The hard truth about Citizens United
by Steven RosenfeldSalon
January 21st, 2012
The movement to overturn the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling and confront the doctrine of “corporate personhood” stands at a perilous crossroads. Across the country, two distinct strategies are converging on Congress....The first would address campaign finance setbacks....The second would go further and seek to revoke the status of corporations as persons under the Constitution...But...Ben Price, project director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) [said] “[The movement to overturn Citizens United] won’t bring the outcomes that are needed.”
Global Exchange's People to People Blog: The Best Government the 1% Can Buy: Is Reversing Citizens United or Corporate Personhood Enough?
by Shannon BiggsGlobal Exchange
January 19th, 2012
Which president told Congress: “I recommend a law prohibiting all corporations from contributing to the campaign expenses of any party…let individuals contribute as they desire; but let us prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly?” If you recognize this Presidential quote, it probably means you’re a history buff (or you watch too much Jeopardy). The correct answer: Who was Theodore Roosevelt? While the speech has become a notable quotable, it’s often forgotten that it followed public outrage surrounding Roosevelt’s acceptance of huge corporate contributions that locked-in his election in 1904.
TribLive: Speedy action urged on Pennsylvania drilling legislation
by Timothy PukoPittsburgh Tribune-Review
January 18th, 2012
CELDF comment: Eyes are on Harrisburg as pro-drilling legislation is debated. Conservation groups and others opposing the legislation focus on how stringent the regulations for drilling should be, lamenting the devastation that will be forthcoming and trying to make it a little less. No one is talking about the rights of communities and local officials to BAN drilling, and that any legislation by Harrisburg to strip that right is a usurpation of communities’ rights to protect their own health, safety, and welfare--for themselves, their children, and to protect the rights of nature. Are communities going to make a stand for their right to decide what happens, where they live? Or are they resigned to arguing about how much poison in the water is acceptable?
Salem News: Injection well foes meet in North Lima
by Kevin HowellSalem News
January 18th, 2012
NORTH LIMA- Area residents need to exercise their democratic right to secure a clean living environment for generations to come, according to a group of Beaver Township residents. Hundreds of concerned township residents filled the old South Range High School auditorium Tuesday night at a rally against horizontal and hydraulic fracture drilling and disposal of hazardous materials at injection wells in Ohio....A meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Beaver Township Administration Building to work with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, an organization that has been instrumental in getting the drilling banned in other communities including Pittsburgh, to draw up a community rights resolution that enacts a local bill of rights protecting the health, safety, welfare and property values of local residents.
Bloomberg: New York Fracking Advocates Say Local Drill Bans Would Be ‘Kiss of Death’
by Freeman Klopott and Jim Efstathiou Jr.Bloomberg
January 17th, 2012
New York (STONY1) would lose any chance of reaping the economic benefits of the shale-gas boom if local governments are allowed to ban drilling through zoning laws, advocates say. The state sits on the northern edge of the Marcellus Shale, which may hold enough natural gas to supply the U.S. for two decades, according to Terry Engelder, a geosciences professor at Pennsylvania State University. In 2010, New York placed a moratorium on the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing so state regulators can develop rules. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow municipalities to ban the practice, a right several say they already have.
The Independent Voter Network: Activists work to keep coal trains out of Washington town
by Alan MarkowThe Independent Voter Network
January 12th, 2012
Concerns about energy independence notwithstanding, when the odor of coal dust wafting through the town offends the citizenry’s olfactory glands, the trains must be stopped. At least that’s the way some people in Bellingham, Washington see it. Activists have formed a Political Action Committee (PAC) called No Coal! to halt coal trains from traversing city property. They envision a legal system that would recognize the Rights of Nature, which apparently includes freedom from coal dust.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Wilkinsburg council lobbies legislators on fracking
by Pamela E. WalckPittsburgh Post-Gazette
January 12th, 2012
The Wilkinsburg council voted unanimously Wednesday night to send letters to local representatives in Harrisburg opposing legislation that would give drilling companies the ability to side-step local bans on Marcellus Shale gas drilling. The board also agreed to draft a formal resolution to denounce the House Bill 1950 and Senate Bill 1100....[Councilwoman Eve Goodman]...added that she doesn't trust corporations to self-regulate for the good a community when corporate profits are on the line.
Green Prophet:Will Turkey’s New Constitution Include Ecological Protections?
by Julia HarteGreen Prophet
January 11th, 2012
Last Wednesday, Turkey’s Constitution Reconciliation Commission was presented with a new series of articles for inclusion in the country’s new constitution. Led by the Turkish Green Party, the articles were submitted by the Initiative for an Ecological Constitution (IEC), and prepared by environmental journalist Mahmut Boynudelik from notes he took at several recent Green Party conferences. If adopted, Turkey would have a constitution like no other in Europe or North America — but somewhat similar to the constitutions of Ecuador and Bolivia, both of whose constitutions recognize legally binding rights of nature.
Vindy.com: DC Fracking Today
by Karl HenkelVindy.com
January 9th, 2012
ARLINGTON, VA.
 — An Ithaca College professor doesn't want to see a halt to horizontal fracturing. She wants to see it banned. Dr. Sandra Steingraber, speaking at a shale drilling health forum Monday, said that fracking will not just cause an enviornmental crisis, but also a "human rights crisis."...Steingraber urged for the rapid phase-out of all fossil fuels "to avoid human calamity" and said that mitigating fracking will only curb potential environmental risks, but not eliminate them. "If we mitigate fracking to kill fewer people, we're still killing people," she said.
The Wall Street Journal: Report: Pa. data missing nearly 500 gas wells
by The Associated PressThe Wall Street Journal
January 9th, 2012
PITTSBURGH — Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection undercounted the number of wells producing gas from the Marcellus Shale, frustrating industry, environmental groups, and elected officials, according to a newspaper report. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (http://bit.ly/weuty8 ) reported that an analysis of DEP data found 495 more wells producing gas, or ready to produce gas, than the DEP has recorded as ever being drilled, and that 182 of those wells don't even show up on the state's Marcellus Shale permit list.
The New York Times: Drilling Critics Face a Divide Over the Goal of Their Fight
by Peter ApplebomeThe New York Times
January 9th, 2012
With a deadline looming this week for the public to weigh in on gas drilling in New York State, the antifracking movement itself has become divided over what its goal should be: securing the nation’s toughest regulations, or winning an outright ban?...Bruce Ferguson, a founding member of Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy which supports a ban [says],“No one wants to see fracking go forward under the current regime or the way it’s being done in Pennsylvania. Everyone agrees on that.”
WFMJ: Liberty Township trustees may challenge state on drilling
by Sally PhillipsWFMJ
January 7th, 2012
LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Ohio - Liberty Township resident Karen O'Malia has lived next to a neighbor's vertical gas well for a year and says it was noisy and smelly when it went in. Now, she says she'd favor a ban on drilling in the township....After eleven earthquakes centered around a brine injection well in Youngstown, Liberty trustees are looking into banning drilling in the township.
The Daily Weekly: Coal Train Ban Is Gaining Steam in Bellingham
by Ellis E. ConklinThe Daily Weekly
January 5th, 2012
Coal is anything but king in Bellingham, though it sure is the talk of the town these days. A new citizens group has sprung to life, a political action committee called No Coal!, which is bound and determined to ban coal trains from the largest city in Whatcom County. Here's the deal: There are big plans in the making by SSA Marine to build a huge coal shipping terminal at Cherry Point and ship the product to China. This of course would mean more coal trains passing through the city's Gateway Pacific Terminal, maybe as many as 18 to 20 round-trip trains per day rolling through the center of town. "Here we are shutting down the last coal-fired plant in the state, and now we're going to ship this air polluting stuff oversees!" fumes Rick Dubrow, one of the main organizers of the committee. "That's a little bit insane, don't you think? What we're trying to show is that our community's interests are more important than that of out-of-state corporations."
The Times-Tribune: North Abington officials to wait on taking action about gas-drilling concerns
by Erin L. Nissley The Times-Tribune
January 4th, 2012
NORTH ABINGTON TWP. - One month after a group approached supervisors about passing an ordinance banning natural gas drilling, officials said they wanted to wait and see what happens with two bills being considered by state legislators. In December, several residents attended the North Abington Twp. meeting to voice concerns about what effects natural gas drilling might have on the environment. They asked supervisors to consider an ordinance that would ban drilling, similar to one that has been presented to municipalities across the region.
Yes! Magazine: A Bill of Rights for Occupied Communities
by Jeff Reifman and Thomas LinzeyYes! Magazine
January 3rd, 2012
When communities try to keep corporations from engaging in activities they don’t want, they often find they don’t have the legal power to say “no.” Why? Because our current legal structure too often protects the “rights” of corporations over the rights of actual human beings. If we are to elevate our rights and the rights of our communities above those of a corporate few, we, too, need to transform the way laws work....This style of organizing moves away from traditional activism—mired in letter writing campaigns and lowest common denominator federal and state legislation—toward a new activism in which communities claim the right to make their own decisions, directly. To help them do so, we’re offering the model Community Bill of Rights template below, a legislative template for communities that want to protect their own rights.
Bellingham Herald: Group seeks to ban coal trains in Bellingham
by John StarkThe Bellingham Herald
January 2nd, 2012
BELLINGHAM -- Ever since the plans for SSA Marine's coal shipping terminal at Cherry Point became public, city officials have been saying that they would have no direct control over the coal trains that would pass through the city if the Gateway Pacific Terminal is built. A new citizens' group plans to change that, but they seem to face overwhelming legal odds. Rick Dubrow, owner of A1 Builders, is one of the key organizers of a new political action committee called No Coal! On Jan. 26, Dubrow said the group will make public its draft of a proposed new city ordinance that would prohibit any transport of coal through Bellingham by rail or any other means.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Straight-talking, passionate Shields leaves council
by Joe SmydoPittsburgh Post-Gazette
December 30th, 2011
"My job isn't to defend the government," Mr. Shields, 58, of Squirrel Hill, said in a farewell interview. "My job is to represent the people it serves."... Last year, Mr. Shields won his colleagues' support of legislation banning natural-gas production in the city. About two weeks ago, he won final approval of another bill aimed at holding drillers and government regulators liable for any pollution the city experiences because of production in upstream municipalities.
Star-Telegram: 'Fractivists' spur Pennsylvania's gas debate
by Mike NormanStar-Telegram
December 29th, 2011
No disrespect meant for North Texas environmental activists who oppose Barnett Shale natural gas drilling and the hydraulic fracturing that comes with it, but people with similar views in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale are strong enough to have been given a name: "fractivists." People there even refer to them as a movement.
The Bellingham Herald: Activists plan initiative to outlaw coal trains in Bellingham
by John StarkThe Bellingham Herald
December 29th, 2011
BELLINGHAM - Ever since the plans for SSA Marine's coal shipping terminal at Cherry Point became public, city officials have been saying that they would have no direct control over the coal trains that would pass through the city if Gateway Pacific Terminal is built. A new citizens' group plans to change all that, but they seem to face overwhelming legal odds. Rick Dubrow, owner of A1 Builders, is one of the key organizers of a new political action committee called No Coal!On Jan. 26, Dubrow said the group will make public its draft of a proposed new city ordinance that would prohibit any transport of coal through Bellingham by rail or any other means.
PennLive: Lycoming County township official blocks road with downed trees to force drilling company to make repairs
by John BeaguePennLive
December 28th, 2011
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- A supervisor in a small rural township in northern Lycoming County took matters into his own hands when a Marcellus shale drilling company kept using a road it had been told to keep big trucks off of. Daniel Roupp cut down a half dozen trees yesterday, blocking the gravel road. “I’m thinking we got their attention,” he said today. The drilling company, Range Resources, has resubmitted a plan for repairs to the road.
Forest Hills-Regent Square Patch: Officials Decry State Regulatory Bill for Gas Drilling
by Shawn KlocekForest Hills-Regent Square Patch
December 24th, 2011
The president of Forest Hills Council wants state lawmakers, each and every one, to know that the borough disagrees with a bill that would transfer all regulation of gas drilling to the state. At a meeting Wednesday, council members passed a resolution to send state lawmakers a letter decrying the regulatory bills in the House and Senate, which have yet to be reconciled, as an assault on local governments’ rights. And President Frank Porco said he wants to know their voices are heard.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Bill could hold gas companies liable
by Joe SmydoPittsburgh Post-Gazette
December 23rd, 2011
The Pittsburgh region needs an "environmental rights renaissance," city Councilman Doug Shields said Wednesday, defending a controversial anti-pollution bill that may not survive into the new year. With less than two weeks remaining in Mr. Shields' last term, council gave final approval Monday to his bill attempting to hold out-of-town natural gas producers liable for any pollution in the city or poisoning of its residents. It also would attempt to hold accountable federal, state or local governments that licensed the polluters.
Clarion News: Millcreek focuses on zoning to regulate drilling
by Tim DiStefanoClarion News
December 22nd, 2011
The thumper trucks have come, drillers are looking at two sites for shale gas wells, and residents are concerned enough to ask the township to take action to protect Millcreek Township's quality of life. More than 80 people filled the fire hall...for the Dec. 13 Millcreek Township supervisors' meeting and when township resident Molly Greenawalt asked them to stand to show support for a [sic] ordinance, to ban drilling, nearly all did so.

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