NY town Adopts Community Rights Ordinance That Bans “Fracking”

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) – Pennsylvania Community Rights Network announces Town of Wales, New York, adopts a Community Rights Ordinance that bans “fracking”

“This local law embodies the will of our residents to protect our natural resources from destruction, so our children and grandchildren can have the quality of life we enjoy.” – Councilmember Mike Simon

Tuesday, June 14th, the Town of Wales, NY, adopted a community rights ordinance titled “Town of Wales Community Protection of Natural Resources.” The Ordinance (No.3-2011) was enacted as a local law under NYS Municipal Home Rule Act, which recognizes broad police powers under the statute. The Ordinance establishes a Bill of Rights for Wales residents and “recognizes and secures certain civil and political rights of the residents of the Town of Wales to govern themselves and protect themselves from harm to their persons, property and environment.”

The Ordinance was drafted in consultation with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund  (CELDF) and advocated for by the community group Protecting Our Water Rights (POWR).

Two key prohibitions are enacted to protect the rights enumerated. The Ordinance bans “ any individual or corporation to engage in the extraction of natural gas or oil utilizing in whole or in part the process commonly known as and herein defined as hydraulic fracturing” and also prohibits “any individual or corporation to engage in the extraction of natural gas or oil utilizing in whole or in part the process commonly known as horizontal gas well drilling,” with the exception, in each case, of gas wells installed and operating at the time of enactment of the Ordinance.

The bill also recognizes the right of the people to a form of government where they live “which recognizes that all power is inherent in the people, that all free governments are founded on the people’s authority and consent, and that neither individuals nor corporate entities and their directors and managers shall enjoy special privileges or powers under the color of state law which purports to make community majorities subordinate to them.”

… Ben Price, Projects Director for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, applauded the Council for taking a stand on behalf of community rights. “State law preempts municipalities from regulating the industry to protect the community. But residents have the right to decide whether or not they get fracked. We don’t have a gas drilling problem. We have a democracy problem. Its symptoms are the State’s refusal to recognize the right to local, community self-government, and the issuance of permits to drilling corporations that empower them to violate the rights of the human and natural communities.”

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