With leadership from Kat Houghton, the group Community Roots has now begun collecting signatures to place the Asheville Climate Bill of Rights ordinance on the 2022 ballot. The group and a coalition of partners came up 27 valid signatures short in 2020. They need just under 11,000 valid signatures.
CELDF’s Ben Price has collaborated with the group on the ordinance language. The ordinance includes “things like the right of residents to live in a place without pollution to the air, water, or soil; the right to have sustainable energy production in the city; and the right of residents to oppose any mandated agreement with a utility company that uses fossil fuels – namely, Duke Energy, which has a near-monopoly of the energy sector in North Carolina,” the Asheville Citizen Times summarizes. Duke Energy has tremendous political power in North Carolina.
The ordinance also includes language asserting that “Ecosystems and natural communities, including but not limited to forests, rivers, wetlands and subsurface water systems, within the City of Asheville possess the right to naturally exist, flourish, regenerate, evolve, and be restored, which includes the right to be free from all activities that threaten these rights, including but not limited to toxic trespass. Specific violations of these rights include clearing land of living flora and fauna for the siting of dwellings to be occupied either permanently or temporarily by anyone paying the owner for such occupancy.”
This ordinance also explicitly challenges North Carolina’s infamous state preemption scheme and privileges afforded private corporations.
For a copy of the ordinance and to learn how you can support the effort, contact BenPrice@celdf.org.