Category Archives: Fracking

Thomas Linzey issues call to “revolt” against rigged legal system

SONY DSC“Everything is F*cked “, Thomas Linzey remarked at the start of his talk – “it’s cooked from top to bottom.” Linzey, Executive Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), spoke to a crowd of about 100 people at the Lakewood Cultural Events Center on Saturday night.

“It takes 5 minutes for a state to issue an [extraction] permit and 10 years for citizens to ‘burn’ it,” said Linzey, in describing the fight between the citizens of Nottingham,  New Hampshire, and USA Springs Corp.,  which obtained a permit to build a 176,000-square-foot factory and extract over 300,000 gallons of water a day from the city’s aquifer. After 6 years of legal battles and more than $500,000, the  residents fought their way to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which sided with the corporation and ruled that the citizens of Nottingham had no legal standing to oppose the corporation’s “right” to extract water.  The state of New Hampshire joined the suite – filing a brief in support of the corporation. The tide finally turned when CELDF helped the residents draft a local self-governance ordinance that asserted their right as a community to prohibit corporations from extracting water.

For the past several years, CELDF has been helping communities across the country draft similar ordinances. In 2013, CELDF worked with anti-fracking activists in Lafayette, CO,  to draft a community rights city charter that bans all oil and gas activity in the city. In the November 2013 election, Lafayette residents passed the ban via a ballot initiative by 60-40 margin. Following the election, the oil and gas industry promptly sued the city and successfully overturned the ban in district court, where judge D.D. Mallard last week ruled that Lafayette residents do not “have the authority to prohibit what the state authorizes and permits.” The case has since been appealed and is working its way to the Colorado Supreme Court.

In his talk, Linzey described his initial experience as a lawyer defending communities from corporate extraction, when he realized the U.S. legal system was stacked against local government’s right to self governance. He discovered that existing laws prohibit communities from banning ‘legal uses’ – all of which are defined at the state level. So in mounting challenges to existing regulations, his defense of municipalities only “helped corporations draft better permits.”

Once Linzey recognized that the root of the problem was a lack of democracy, he shifted from fighting symptoms to tackling the structural foundation of U.S. laws. Linzey pointed out that corporations rely on governments to get power and rights, so “it’s your own government that’s the problem.” The law of preemption, which enables state governments to trump or ‘preempt’ local laws, “takes power from greater numbers of citizens and transfers it to a few people distant from the municipality.” To counter this rigged system, Linsey urges a “full scale revolt” among citizens that is “not championed by anyone important,” and challenges local governments to pass ordinances that elevate the rights of those communities over rights claimed by corporations.

Lafayette files class action suit to protect self-governance and community rights

Residents of Lafayette, Colorado filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent the state of Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) from taking away the town’s right to ban the practice.

Colorado citizens want the right to decide for themselves whether drilling sites like this one should be allowed in their communities.

Photo credit: The Endocrine Disruption Exchange

Citizens in Lafayette, which is a Home Rule Community under Colorado law, voted last November to pass a Community Bill of Rights under its Home Rule Charter that banned fracking and established the right of citizens to a healthy environment. In December COGA sued the city to overturn its Bill of Rights, claiming that while citizens don’t have a right to clean air and water or self-governance, COGA has a constitutional right to frack under the state’s Oil and Gas Act.

Citizens responded by filing a first-of-its-kind class action suit in June, arguing that parts of the Oil and Gas Act violate the right to local self-governance. The preliminary injunction, filed yesterday in the Boulder County District County, would prevent COGA’s lawsuit from moving forward until its own is decided and declare parts of the Oil and Gas Act unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs are part of the Colorado Community Rights Network, a group founded late last year to protect the rights of communities to make decisions locally on issues like fracking. They are represented by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a Pennsylvania-based group that provides affordable representation to communities clashing with deep-pockets corporations. CELDF executive director Thomas Linzey said of the Lafayette lawsuit:

The right to local, community self-government serves as the foundation for the American system of law. Yet the people’s right to self-governance has been routinely ignored by our elected representatives and overridden by the courts in favor of corporate rights. This class action lawsuit is merely the first of many by people across the United States whose constitutional rights to self-govern are routinely violated by state governments working in concert with the corporations that they ostensibly regulate. The people of Lafayette will not stand idly by as their rights are negotiated away by oil and gas corporations, and by their state government.

The lawsuit follows a recent deal between Gov. Hickenlooper and Colorado congressman Jared Polis to remove four contentious pro- and anti-fracking measures from this November’s state ballot in favor of an 18-member commission, with both citizens and oil and gas industry representatives, to work out an agreement on the issues to submit to the legislature for approval.

Many environmentalists took a dim view of this compromise, despite the likelihood that the industry would spend tens of millions of dollars to buy itself another ballot victory.

Colorado Initiative #103 winds through review process

Colorado Initiative #103, written by Phil Doe of Be The Change U.S.A., is winding through the legal review process. Once that process is complete, the petition will be ready for gathering petitions to get it on the 2014 state-wide ballot.

The establishment of a public trust for natural and environmental resources

Statement of Principle:

The people of Colorado have an inalienable right to clean air, clean water, and the preservation of the environment and natural resources.

How these rights will be protected:

  • The state, as trustee, shall conserve these public resources using the best science available to protect them against substantial impairment.
  • Previous rights and agreements on the use of resources are subject to the substantial impairment test, and could be revoked.
  • The state shall seek monetary damages from anyone impairing these resources and the recovered value shall be used for remediation.
  • Colorado citizens may file enforcement actions on their own behalf in court.
  • Anyone proposing an action using public resources must prove the action will not substantially impair the resource.
  • The manipulation of scientific information for private gain in the use of public resources shall be deemed a criminal offense.

Colorado State Ballot Initiative 75, the Right to Local Government, Clears Final Hurdle at Colorado Supreme Court

Legal council and organizers from the Colorado Community Rights Network
received notice today from the Colorado Supreme Court that ballot initiative
# 75, the Right to Local Self Government, has cleared its final legal
challenge, and is now headed toward signature gathering to place it onto the
2014 ballot. The ballot initiative, the first of its kind, succeeded in
clearing all phases of State approval as well as two corporate legal
challenges designed to keep the initiative from a democratic vote of
Colorado citizens.

The ballot initiative asserts, “People have an inherent and inalienable
right to local self-government.” It goes on to say that the power to enact
local laws protecting the health, safety, and welfare of individuals,
communities, and nature will not be subject to preemption by higher levels
of government, and that local governments will have the power to restrict
the ability of corporations to interfere with such laws. Preemption has been
used by the Colorado Mining Association to overturn a five-county ban on the
industrial use of cyanide in gold mining, and is currently being employed
against the communities of Longmont, Lafayette, and Fort Collins in their
efforts to protect their people and cities from the harmful effects of
modern oil and gas extraction.

The Colorado Community Rights Network will now begin to print petitions and
organize volunteer signature gatherers throughout the state. The current
volunteer structure spans over 30 Colorado cities and will grow through
statewide presentations and ongoing organizing efforts.

The Colorado Community Rights Network supports the view that our fundamental
rights are universal, and that the current legal framework that favors
corporations over people and communities threatens the essence of democracy.
Ballot initiative #75 addresses the inherent problems of corporate-centered
law. It is part of the larger national community rights movement to bring
full democratic rights and protections to communities across Colorado and
the United States.

The Colorado Community Rights Network is the umbrella organization advancing
ballot measure #75, the Colorado Community Rights Amendment, and helping
local communities create their own protections against corporate activities
that interfere with the rights of local communities and of individuals.
Founded in January 2014, the Colorado Community Rights Network now is
working on both the state and local level.

Contacts:
Cliff Willmeng 303 478 6613 Lotus 719 337 0029
Merrily Mazza 720 556 1286
COCRN.org

Youths’ Anti-Fracking Petition To Be Heard Before The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez

Last fall, Colorado youth hand-delivered a petition for rulemaking to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. The petition was signed by eight youth activists, who are members of the Boulder-based organization, Earth Guardians. The youth are petitioning the Commission to promulgate a rule to suspend the issuance of permits that allow hydraulic fracturing until it can be done without adversely impacting human health and safety and without impairing Colorado’s atmospheric resources and climate system, water, soil, wildlife, and other biological resources.

WHAT: The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will hold a public hearing to consider youths’ anti-fracking petition.

WHEN: Monday, April 28, 2014, 1:00 p.m. MST

WHERE: Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission 1120 Lincoln St, Suite 801 Denver, CO 80203

The youths’ petition was filed with the help of Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon- based nonprofit orchestrating a global game-changing, youth driven legal campaign. The legal effort advances the fundamental duty of government today: to address the climate crisis based on scientific baselines and benchmarks, and to do so within timeframes determined by scientific analysis.!

Short documentary films of Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, and other young people taking legal action can be seen at http://ourchildrenstrust.org/trust-films.

Contact:
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Earth Guardians, 303-946-9347, 

Nate Bellinger, Our Children’s Trust, 413-687-1668, 

Earth Guardians is a Colorado-based nonprofit organization with youth chapters on five continents, and multiple groups in the United States with more than 1,000 members working together to protect the Earth, the water, the air, and the atmosphere, creating healthy sustainable communities globally. We inspire and empower young leaders, families, schools, organizations, cities, and government officials to make positive change locally, nationally, and globally to address the critical state of the Earth. www.earthguardians.org

Our Children’s Trust is a nonprofit focused on protecting earth’s natural systems for current and future generations. We are supporting youth in the coordinated Atmospheric Trust Litigation effort. We are here to empower youth as they stand up for their lawful inheritance: a healthy planet. We are mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers. We are adults, part of the ruling generation, and we care about the future of our children–and their children’s children. www.ourchildrenstrust.org

Protect Our Loveland pleads for help in the face of City Council shenanigans

Loveland City Council’s majority pushed through a reversal of the decision last Tues. to hold the Special Election that will decide the fate of Loveland’s citizen’s initiative on a two year moratorium on fracking in Loveland.  Was July 29 – a week later it was moved up to June 24.

We, the citizen’s of Loveland, have been continually sabotaged by this council majority’s actions against our initiative, and the vote to change the date of the Special Election to June 24 is no exception.

This decision was pushed through despite the warning the week before from our Larimer County clerk that taking such action would both disenfranchise many voters and confuse others (who may then find their vote disqualified due to mishandling of the ballot).

Her professional advice was met by attempts to bully and intimidate her into taking on our election.  When she refused, the behavior of two of our councilmen quickly erupted into some pretty despicable behavior.  Shameful.

She stood by her decision however, and refused to participate in threatening not only Loveland voters with disenfranchisement, but every voter in Larimer County.

Despite the county clerk’s advisements, and her refusal to participate, the council majority reversed their decision a week later – the special election will now be held on June 24th.

I guess Councilmen Taylor wouldn’t or couldn’t hold fast to his dissenting vote the week before.

What is worse (if in fact it can continue to get worse), the council majority’s action adds yet more  cost to taxpayers.  We pay and pay and pay for their continued manipulation of our right to vote.  An election that should have taken place last November now carries the price tag of at least $80,000.  I believe Troy Krenning’s claim to being a fiscal conservative has now been proven false.

Protect Our Loveland was organized to create and sponsor a citizen’s initiative, needed, because our City Council refused to acknowledge Loveland citizens concerns.  Concerns that oil and gas development would negatively affect our health and property values.  When our council majority then refused us our right to vote on the issue last Nov., our mission was expanded to include the protection of our civil rights.

We are now campaigning for our initiative.  Please join with us by volunteering to help us win our moratorium.  Please join with us by donating to help pay for the costs of this election, as we fight to win the time to consider the consequences of opening our city up to fracking before we know the facts.

The council majority may have made it clear, and obvious, that THEY don’t want a moratorium – or even an election on this issue.  But now that we finally have an election, regardless of their continued roadblocks, we are going to win it.

Protect our children, Protect our homes, Protect Our Loveland.  It’s two years.  The gas and oil aren’t going anywhere.

Thank you so much.

Sharon J. Carlisle

PROTECT OUR LOVELAND

Our Health  Our Voice

Air Quality Control Commission – Public Comment Meeting

The Air Quality Control Commission Public Comment Meeting is Wednesday, Feb 19 at 15151 East Alameda Parkway, Aurora, CO 80012 (Aurora’s City Center Building).

The Commission will have a designated time to take public comment from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM and from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM for participants that are appearing in person. This is designated for oral comments only.

IF YOU CAN’T MAKE IT TO THE HEARING, EMAIL COMMENTS TO THE COMMISSION BY TOMORROW.

Written and/or electronic documents must be submitted to the Commission Office by closure of the Public Comment Session or by February 19, 2014.

Written submissions should be mailed to:

Colorado Air Quality Control Commission
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, EDO-AQCC-A5
Denver, Colorado 80246

Email submissions should be emailed to:

Deborah Rogers dismantles claims of economic boom from fracking

In a talk titled “Shale Boom or Shale Bubble?” at the Broomfield Community Center last Thursday, Deborah Rogers directly challenged the myth of a decades long economic boom from fracking. SONY DSCRogers is a financial consultant and the founder of the Energy Policy Forum, an organization that studies the policy and financial issues surrounding shale gas and renewable energy.

The talk, sponsored by Our Broomfield and Earthworks, was attended by a full house of about 100 people. Rogers stated that the fracking “boom” has been bolstered by Wall Street money, which began investing heavily in oil and gas shale following the collapse of mortgage-backed securities in 2008. She said Wall Street is playing the same game with shale as with the housing market – manipulating the ratings agencies to boost the commodity. Once a shale field is “proven,” Wall Street sells it at 5 to 10 times the original price. These “proven” fields are initially tapped in their “sweet spot”, and the first wells produce at high capacity that is assumed to permeate the entire field.  The problem is that marginal areas further afield may produce at only 30% capacity of the initial wells. This problem is compounded by declines in production of 30-50% each year for gas shale, and even greater declines for oil shale. Rogers said the Niobrara fields, which underlie most of eastern Colorado, decline by 65% the first year. Wells in the Bakkan field, which span much of western North Dakota, are completely spent after 6 years.

In order the give the illusion of a boom, the oil and gas industry must constant grow production to give the illusion of increasing capacity. In spite of this, Rogers predicts that oil and gas production from fracking will peak around 2017 and the major ‘plays’ will decline to ‘stripper well’ status by 2024.

Action Alert – contact the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) commissioners

Please contact the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) commissioners to let them know that their constituents want to see air pollution curbed around oil and gas drilling. The more people they hear from the better, so if you have any friends interested in getting involved, please send forward this onto them.

The person you’ll be contacting is Michael Silverstein who is the Administrator and Technical Secretary. His number is 303-692-3478. We are asking folks to let the commissioners know that they support strong regulations to curb air pollution from oil and gas drilling and to mention 1 or 2 of the following points :

  • Nine Colorado counties now exceed EPA limits for ozone pollution.
  • Oil and gas operations are the leading source of VOCs in the state, the chemicals that form ground-level ozone.
  • The Governor has called for “zero tolerance” on methane emissions that cause climate change and we support that effort.
  • This AQCC rulemaking is a huge opportunity to improve our public health by curbing these VOC and methane emissions from oil and gas and we want to see a strong rule.

Thanks!

Robert R. Winkler, CDRP

International Institute of Risk Management

Washington University

Concerned Citizen of Colorado

 

Sad day for Colorado – HB 1275 dies in committee

State Representative Joann Ginal (D-Fort Collins)

Joann Ginal’s bill, HB 13—1275, which would have required the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to commission a study to identify health impacts of oil and gas activity, died in committee, on a 5-6 vote.  All 5 Republicans plus Rep. Dave Young (D-Greeley) voted against it.  The bill was heavily lobbied against by Governor Hickenlooper’s appointee to the CDPHE, Chris Urbina, who stayed for the whole 3.5-hour committee meeting and testified along with his staff.  In addition, Dr. Urbina had been lobbying Rep. Young prior to the hearing.