Rights of Nature Tribunal
In the United States, human law has not forgotten nature, but it hasn’t protected it either. Fracking is a prime example. Some 400 million years ago, ancient aquatic environments dried up, cementing fine sedimentary deposits over the millennia into hard shale, which now lie 2 miles or more below our feet. Through the wonder of modern technology some industry-friendly political will and serious legal heft, today these ancient shale formations are the new underground playground of oil and gas corporations.
Under our current structure of law, communities are not allowed to say “no” to fracking even as our health, safety and welfare is at risk. In many states fracking is unregulated and even unmonitored. Most communities are not even notified that fracking is happening near them. Fracking is a legal drilling process, and corporations with a state permit and ownership or lease of mineral rights to drill have the law on their side. Residents are seen as having “no authority” in their own communities. Cloaked in Constitutional protections, exemptions and well-greased political cover, the oil and gas industry stands on solid legal ground as they roll into town.
And what about environmental protections? The ownership of ecosystems is promoted and protected by law, upholding the control and dominance of humans over nature. The law does not “see” nature as anything but property. Our ecosystems have no legal standing in a court of law. From the tar sands of Alberta to mountaintop removal for coal, to fracking and deep ocean drilling, profound damage has been done with the full blessing of the law.
Presented by Shannon Biggs, Global Exchange, USA
Read the Case Study and threats of hydrofracking at: US Fracking Case Study Tribunal
View case as a Power Point or as PDF:
Shannon Biggs is the Director of the Community Rights program at Global Exchange, an international human rights organization based in California, USA, where she assists ccommunities confronted by corporate harms to enact binding laws that place the rights of communities and nature above the claimed legal “rights” of corporations. MS. Biggs leads over a dozen community-based campaigns to ban fracking in California. She is the co-author and editor of two books, Building the Green Economy: Success Stories from the Grass Roots and The Rights of Nature: Making the Case for the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth. She is a founding steering committee member of the Stop the Frack Attack network, the largest national fracking network in the United States and a leading member of the Californians Against Fracking coalition. Prior to coming to Global Exchange she was a senior staffer at International Forum on Globalization (IFG), she also was a Lecturer in International Relations at San Francisco State University. Shannon holds a Masters in Economics/Politics of Empire the London School of Economics (LSE), and has a BS in International Relations from San Francisco State University (SFSU)