Monday, August 29, 2011

How can communities reclaim the right to say "no" to corporations?

Mari Margil, of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, recently posted this article on local rights-based ordinances, originally written for Yes! Magazine. She focuses on the recent circuit court overturn on Morgantown, West Virginia's local anti-fracking ordinance, and asks

"Why is it that cities and towns facing the direct impacts of these and a wide range of other harmful corporate activities do not have the authority to determine whether they should occur? How is it that corporate directors who live hundreds if not thousands of miles away--working hand-in-hand with the state and federal officials that residents often expect to protect them--are able to override local, democratic decision making like Morgantown's?"
Pittsburgh's anti-fracking ordinance, which declares the "fundamental and inalienable right" to water for both residents and ecosystems, also gives residents legal standing to sue on behalf of protection of the municipality's ecosystems. But passing these ordinances is nothing but show unless municipalities are also willing to enforce them.

In the meantime, as Wenonah Hauter points out, the energy industries still have too many tools at their disposal to influence public policy in the service of making money, regardless of the risk to health, environment, and local democracy.

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