“Individuals have rights; corporations don’t” –Mik Rorbertson,
Chair, Licking Township Board of Supervisors
November 14, 2010
CONTACT: Ben Price, (717) 254-3233
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Wednesday, October 13, 2010- Licking Township, Clarion County, PA) At a regularly scheduled Township meeting, the Board of Supervisors for Licking Township voted unanimously to adopt the “Licking Township Community Water Rights and Self-Government Ordinance.” This is the first community rights ordinance adopted in the state to confront the threat of Marcellus Shale drilling by asserting the inalienable right to local self-government.
At the heart of the ordinance is this statement of law: “It shall be unlawful for any corporation, or any director, officer, owner, or manager of a corporation to use a corporation, to deposit waste water, “produced” water, “frack” water, brine or other materials, chemicals or by-products of natural gas extraction, into the land, air or waters within Licking Township”.
Also included in the ordinance is a local “bill of rights” that asserts legal protections for the right to water; the rights of natural communities and a healthy environment; the right to local self-government, and the right of the people to enforce and protect these rights through their municipal government. The ordinance reiterates Licking Township’s “Corporate Personhood Elimination and Democracy Protection Ordinance” of 2003 by specifically subordinating corporations engaged in gas drilling to the people of the municipality.
Energy corporations are setting up shop in communities throughout Pennsylvania, with plans to drill for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation. The gas extraction technique known as “fracking” has been cited as a threat to surface and ground water throughout the region, and has been blamed for fatal explosions, the contamination of drinking water, local streams, the air and soil. Collateral damage includes lost property value, ingestion of toxins by livestock, drying up of mortgage loans for prospective home buyers, and threatened loss of organic certification for farmers in the affected communities.
The Ordinance was drafted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) at the invitation of the Board of Supervisors, who reviewed and finalized the text.
Ben Price, Projects Director for CELDF said he applauds the Township for taking a stand on behalf of community rights. “Some will say it’s controversial, or that the municipality doesn’t have the authority to ban this noxious practice associated with gas drilling. The only way that’s true is if the State has the authority to strip the residents of the Township of their rights, and it doesn’t.”
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, located in Chambersburg, has been working with people in Pennsylvania since 1995 to assert their fundamental rights to democratic local self-governance, and to enact laws which end destructive and rights-denying corporate action aided and abetted by state and federal governments.