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Big Oil and Gas Threaten Community Self-Determination with New State Preemption Legislation

Oregon HB 2480 would expressly preempt local governments from any
authority over the transportation or storage of fossil fuels.

Legislation That is Part of a Pattern of States Denying Local Democratic Rights

Wednesday, February 9, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Mary Geddry
[email protected]
541-551-1492

CORVALLIS – HB 2480 was introduced in January by Oregon House Representative Bentz on behalf of Pac/West. The aim of HB 2480, as summarized on the Oregon State Legislature website, is to, “Preempt city, county or other local government from enacting charter provision, ordinance, resolution or other provision regulating expansion of infrastructure for primary purpose of transporting or storing fossil fuels.” The bill currently sits in the House Committee on Energy and Environment.

Pac/West is a corporate public relations and lobbyist firm based in Salem, Oregon. The organization has been assisting in advancing pro-drilling agendas in Colorado over the last four years.  Colorado fracked gas would be transported through the Oregon Pacific Connector pipeline/Jordan Cove export terminal if that fossil fuel project were to be operationalized.

In December 2016, Portland banned any new fossil fuel storage facilities as well as the expansion of existing facilities through a zoning law.

Coos County will be voting on Measure 6-162 in May which would secure a Right to a Sustainable Energy Future that would prohibit unsustainable fossil fuel projects like Jordan Cove. Columbia County is currently circulating an initiative petition to be on the November ballot for a similar rights-based law as Coos County.

Under HB 2480 no communities – city or county – could adopt such laws as Portland, Coos, and Columbia, and the new law would presumably nullify any existing local laws found to be in conflict.

Pattie Gouveia, co-lead on the YES on Measure 6-162 campaign in Coos County, stated, “The transportation, storage, and burning of fossil fuels is absolutely a local issue, whereby the local must be able to assert the greatest authority about what happens in the community. HB 2480 is just another example of the Oregon legislature advancing corporate interests by denying local democratic rights.”

In addition to recent federal executive orders, applauded by the fossil fuel industry, to continue with the build out of the Dakota Access Pipeline and reactivate the Keystone XL Pipeline, the industry has also been moving legislation and litigation to suppress local control in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Colorado in order to advance infrastructure expansion of pipelines, drill wells, and post-drilling waste storage.

“HB 2480 violates not only our right to a healthy climate by accelerating the burning of fossil fuels, but it also violates our right of local self-government. If we, where we live, don’t push for a sustainable energy future, one that doesn’t include fossil fuels and corporate control of energy, who will?”, says Nancy Ward from Columbia County Sustainable Action for a Green Environment.

“GMO seed, annexations, rent control, minimum wage, pesticides are just a few examples of how the state, on behalf of corporations, has commandeered legal authority over our Oregon communities. We have state laws here in Oregon that forbid communities from legislating on any of these issues where it comes to advancing greater health, safety, and welfare protection. HB 2480 is merely the latest on a long list of corporate fed actions by the state to keep communities and the people that live there contained and controlled,” says Dana Allen, board member of the Oregon Community Rights Network.

The Oregon Community Rights Network launched a constitutional amendment effort through Oregonians for Community Rights in 2015 that would secure the right of local community self-government against such preemptive actions of HB 2480.That amendment is currently being blocked for further petition circulation by the state.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

To learn more about the ORCRN please visit www.orcrn.org. Information on Coos County and Columbia County community rights efforts: www.cooscommons.org and https://www.facebook.com/ccsage.org/. More on Oregon’s Right of Local Community Self-Government constitutional amendment: http://oregoncommunityrights.org/amendment/

ABOUT THE ORCRN – OREGON COMMUNITY RIGHTS NETWORK
The ORCRN is a 501(c)(3) made up of community rights activists from various communities in Oregon. The mission of the ORCRN is to support and empower communities to secure local self-determination and and self-governance rights, superior to corporate power, in order to protect fundamental rights, quality of life, the natural environment, public health, and safety.

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Turmoil in Lane County Again!

As if making them split their Charter Amendment into TWO seperate Amendments wasn’t enough, Lane County Commissioners are trying to become the gatekeepers of democracy. The goal is to end aerial herbicide spraying, while securing rights to clean air, water, and soil, and bodies free from chemical tresspass. This Charter Amendment would also secure Lane County’s right to Direct Democracy, free from interference by large Corporations. However Lane County Judge Calrson saw that as two seperate issues. So they are collecting for both an aerial spray ban, and the Right of Local Community Self-Government. That’s almost 22,000 signatures needed! So if you’re a registered voter in Lane County, please visit their website and download the online signatures sheet and send it in.

And if that isn’t enough, the Lane County Commissioners, at the urging of Corporate Timber interests, are trying to block the voters from ever having a say in that issue. They are trying to give themselves the power to veto Initiatives, before they go to a vote of the people. This is an unconstitutional move on their part, and Attorney Ann Kneeland is on the case! There is an Open Letter to the Lane County Commissions that you can sign. You don’t have to be a Lane County resident to sign. Don’t let the Commissioners of your County become the Gatekeepers of your local democracy!

GMOs Have More Rights Than the People of Josephine County

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ORCRN_allpowerFarmer

CONTACT:
Mary Geddry
541-551-1492
[email protected]

Judge overturns ban on GMOs; state preemption used once again to deny right of local self-government

Corvallis, Oregon — May 17, 2016
Yesterday a Josephine County Circuit Court judge denied the will of the people of Josephine County by ruling that their prohibition on GMO crops, adopted at the ballot in May 2014, is unenforceable because a conflict with state law.

The basis of the judge’s decision was SB863, adopted by the state legislature in the fall of 2013 which places all authority over GMO seed in the hands of the state and prohibits local governments from interfering with that state authority. SB863, modeled after similar laws adopted in other states, is intended to protect corporate industrial agricultural practices over that of local, sustainable agriculture.

“It hurts to say so but yesterday’s decision is not surprising”, says Dana Allen, board member of the Oregon Community Rights Network. “So long as we allow the laws that favor corporate interests over people and nature we can expect our communities to be treated as wards of the state.”

“State preemption is but one of a number of corporate powers, privileges, and “rights” used to keep communities in a subordinate position to both state government and corporate interests”, says Kai Huschke, CELDF Northwest Organizer. “Oregon has a long history of preemption whether in agriculture, the timber industry, land use, minimum wage, housing, or health care such that the recognized conventional legal arrangement is that anything of commercial interest is kept in the hands of the corporate state leaving communities unable to make critical decisions about health, safety, welfare, and their future viability.”

Because of SB863 and decisions like the one coming out of Josephine County, a number of local community rights actions have emerged in different parts of the state (Columbia, Coos, Lane, Lincoln) in order to assert and protect the right of the people to govern in their own communities. The mobilizing issues have varied from pesticide use to LNG pipelines to methanol plants, but foundationally each effort is about asserting, through lawmaking, the right of local community self-government both in protection of fundamental rights and the rejection of imposed corporate projects.

“We need to realize that we are all in the same boat and that boat is sinking quickly”, says Michelle Holman, member of Community Rights Lane County. “Whether our issue is human rights, economic rights, protecting the environment, or stopping unwanted development, we have a structure of law that favors corporations over living breathing beings and that has to change.”

Oregonians for Community Rights, the political arm to the Oregon Community Rights Network, is moving a state constitutional amendment to secure and protect the Right of Local Community Self-Government such that authority to adopt law at the community level regarding sustainable agriculture, sustainable energy, sustainable economies, etc. cannot be preempted by the state. The law is a oneway valve allowing communities the ability to increase rights and protections not remove them as recognized by state, federal, or international law. Oregon’s Right of Local Community Self-Government amendment initiative is currently involved in a legal challenge with the state regarding broader petition circulation.

Additional Information
www.oregoncommunityrights.org , www.orcrn.org , and www.celdf.org
https://www.facebook.com/OR4CR , https://www.facebook.com/ORCRN , and
https://www.facebook.com/Community-Environmental-Legal-Defense-Fund-112830808767534/

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Let the People Decide

Submitted by Lincoln County Community Rights

Right now, the right of the people of Lincoln County to decide is under attack.

A judge of the Lincoln County Circuit Court will soon determine whether or not to allow gathering signatures for an initiative petition, based on arguments heard in court, representing the profit-driven interests of industry invested in aerial spraying of pesticides in our county on the one hand, vs. the right of the people to use the initiative petition process to propose new law to protect their safety and that of the environment on the other. The answer should be clear – let the people decide.

The initiative petition in question is titled “Freedom from Aerially Sprayed Pesticides of Lincoln County” and has been put forward by Citizens for a Healthy County. It asks the people of Lincoln County if they want to ban the practice of aerial spraying of pesticides (a practice that has already been banned in federal forests for 30 years) in order to protect our right to clean air, water, and soil and to stop our continued exposure to toxic chemicals.

The judge is not considering whether aerial spraying of pesticides should or should not be banned, but whether the people of Lincoln County can be asked that question through circulation of a petition which could only become a ballot measure if it receives the required number of signatures.

The government of Lincoln County already decided that asking the question is reasonable and should happen. However, on February 29th, the attorney for the party opposing circulation of the petition argued in court that wanting clean air, water, and soil somehow entails a hidden threat to voters; that questioning the authority of industry profiting from aerial spraying of pesticides and the state to force toxic chemicals on our forests, watersheds, and people also entails that threat. Perhaps worst of all, the opposing attorney argued that people wanting to defend their constitutionally-guaranteed rights, even when our government and the courts may fail to do so, is again a threat that voters need to be protected from.

We must let the people decide. The petition must go out for signatures. With enough signatures the initiative becomes a ballot measure. Then the people – not vested interests – and not a single judge – decide. What is at stake here is much bigger than the question of aerial spraying of pesticides. The real issue is our right, as the people of Lincoln County, to govern in matters that pertain to our fundamental rights.

People of all political stripes are sick and tired of having money influence how we vote. If the judge stops circulation of the petition for signatures, thereby supporting the opinion of the attorney opposing our initiative, it means that money can influence not only how we vote, but whether we get to vote at all.

We believe in Article I, Section 1 of the Oregon Constitution, where it declares : “All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; and they have at all times a right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.”

We look forward to the judge in this case doing the right thing – letting the people decide. Otherwise, those constitutional words aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.

 

María Sause and other members of
Lincoln County Community Rights

Join ORCRN at PIELC 2016

Join Oregon Community Rights Network for this panel…

Following Nature’s Lead for Civil Disobedience: Building a New Direct Action Movement Community by Community
(LAW 142) 2:20 – 3:35

As nature goes on the offense with ever increasing catastrophic
climatic events, our activism stays stuck in the 1970s. Our organizing has refused to confront a structure of law that protects environmentally destructive corporate behavior.This panel is about the growing Community Rights movement and how communities are “occupying the law” to dismantle the corporate state, legalize sustainability and secure nature’s rights, and the convergence of community rights with direct action aimed at physically stopping harmful corporate projects.

Panelists:
Kai Huschke, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund Organizer
Rob Dickinson, Organizer, Oregonians for Community Rights
Mary Grace Hickok, Organizer, Cascadia Forest Defenders