11.17.2010

Corporations Aren't People

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund has been working for years to teach communities how to reclaim their rights from major corporations.  On November 16, they won a major victory.

This morning, the Pittsburgh City Council became the first municipality in the United States to ban natural gas extraction within its boundaries. The ordinance isn’t just a ban – it consists of a new Bill of Rights for Pittsburgh residents (which includes a right to water along with rights for ecosystems and nature), and then proceeds to ban those activities – including natural gas extraction - which would violate those rights.
The CELDF has promoted a number of legal measures for use by small, resource-rich, communities over the years, including stripping corporations of their legal personhood and guaranteeing constitutional rights for the natural environment.  While "Pittsburgh's Community Protection from Natural Gas Extraction Ordinance" does not attempt to overturn the manifold rights of personhood guaranteed to corporations, it does protect the right to water, the rights of natural communities, the right to self-government, and the people as sovereign.  
The City Council of Pittsburgh finds that the commercial extraction of natural gas in the urban environment of Pittsburgh poses a significant threat to the health, safety, and welfare of residents and neighborhoods within the City.  Moreover, widespread environmental and human health impacts have resulted from commercial gas extraction in other areas.  Regulating the activity of commercial gas extraction automatically means allowing commercial gas extraction to occur within the City, thus allowing the deposition of toxins into the air, soil, water, environment, and the bodies of residents within our City.  
Meaningful regulatory limitations and prohibitions concerning Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction, along with zoning and land use provisions, are barred because they conflict with certain legal powers claimed by resource extraction corporations.   The City Council recognizes that environmental and economic sustainability cannot be achieved if the rights of municipal majorities are routinely overridden by corporate minorities claiming certain legal powers.
Industry representatives have, predictably, attacked the ban as "short-sighted," while
City Councilman Doug Shields, the bill's sponsor, talked about what he called the "arrogance of this industry" that he said puts money ahead of trying to figure out the health, environmental and municipal effects of drilling.
Buffalo's City Council was set to vote on a similar ordinance on November 10, while another ban was rejected in Fort Worth.  Good start.

1 comments:

Jose Almanzar said...

Where's the "Like" button?