The corporations have voluntarily withdrawn their applications rather than face the costs, time and negative publicity of a lengthy legal battle. So communities can do one of the following:
More than 160 ordinances banning unsustainable and harmful development have been adopted in communities around the US using the right of local self-government. Out of that number only 9 have been challenged. Five of those did not include a bill of rights like the Coos County initiative and the elected officials caved to pressure from the industry and or the state and rescinded the ordinances. Four ongoing lawsuits include communities in Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio and Pennsylvania and the latter includes a watershed as an intervenor because its right to thrive is threatened by proposed gas development. In Colorado and Ohio, class action lawsuits have been filed against the state for violating the community’s right to local self-government.
During a packed public meeting the supervisors of Conestoga Township, Pennsylvania ignored overwhelming public support for a Community Bill of Rights Ordinance that would have superseded state and federal laws and prohibited the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline from being built through the township. Amidst cries of “shame on you” and “you should be fired” the supervisors voted 3-0 to reject the ordinance on the advice of counsel who convinced the board the ordinance violated both state and federal constitutions. Like most municipal counsel, this lawyer has been trained to work only within the narrow confines of the Box of Allowable Remedies. One frustrated Conestoga resident observed that by the counselor’s reasoning just a few generations earlier he would be arguing that she had no constitutional authority to vote.
In every other instance, where the elected boards and the residents have stood behind their rights based ordinances the targeted harms have not crossed their borders. The corporations have voluntarily withdrawn their applications rather than face the costs, time and negative publicity of a lengthy legal battle. So communities can do one of the following:
- Do nothing and the unwanted project takes place
- Continue to battle within the rigged regulatory framework and the project takes place
- Assert the community’s right to decide and expose the illegitimacy of the current system
There are those who genuinely believe the Jordan Cove LNG project and the privatization of tax dollars for purposes of speculating on economic development via the CEP will bring long term economic benefits to Coos County. We will be covering this topic more closely in upcoming posts but for now read The LNG prosperity myth