Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"The Real Frackasaurus Coloring Book" by Ben Price, Projects Director, CELDF

The Real Frackasaurus Coloring Bookby Ben Price, Projects Director, CELDFAugust 30th, 2011

On November 15, 2010, South Fayette Township in Allegheny County,
Pennsylvania passed a zoning ordinance regulating the location of oil
and gas extraction activities in the municipality. The ordinance was
drafted by the Township and cleared by its Zoning Board in an attempt to
protect from fracking as much of the community as possible through the
land-use regulatory authority delegated to the Township by the State in
the Municipalities Planning Code (MPC). What the Board of Commissioners
adopted is an ordinance they cleared as to legality with their municipal
Solicitor. They played it safe. They colored inside the lines.

One day later, on November 16, 2010, Pittsburgh City Council adopted a
Local Bill of Rights Ordinance that bans corporations from extracting
gas anywhere within the City. The Council Members decided not to
surrender any part of the City to the frackers, arguing that all
residents of the City have equal rights, and the Council Members had
each sworn to protect the health, safety and welfare of all of the
residents equally. Critics of the Ordinance said it is illegal and
unconstitutional because it makes people’s rights trump corporate
privileges recognized by the courts, and it challenges state laws that
preempt local law-making and everybody knows state laws are superior to
local ones. This community rights ordinance has the temerity to
recognize the right to local self-government, the rights of natural
communities and ecosystems, the right to water, and that corporate
privileges are subordinate to the fundamental rights of members of the

You couldn’t ask for two more diametrically opposed views of what a
local government should do when faced with a community-wide threat to
health, safety and welfare.

Nine months later, on August 16, 2011,

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