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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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Right of Community Self-Determination Greater Than Corporate Power in Court

The petition initiative blocked by the State for ballot qualification that would curb corporate power will be heard on Thursday, November 10th

Wednesday, October 26, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Mary Geddry
[email protected]
541-551-1492
http://www.oregoncommunityrights.org/

Eight months since easily collecting the required number of sponsorship signatures for the Right of Local Community Self-Government constitutional amendment, the petition initiative still cannot collect signatures to qualify for the statewide ballot. Blocked by the State, the
initiative will be in court on November 10th to determine if broader petition circulation can continue towards ballot qualification and ultimately the votes of Oregonians.

The Oregon Secretary of State along with the Attorney General’s office made a determination in April that the amendment, as currently written, does not meet the tests for a separate vote and that the initiative is not an amendment but a revision to the constitution.

“The state is wrong here and that will be proven in court”, says Rob Dickinson, petitioning coordinator for Oregonians for Community Rights. ”This initiative is absolutely essential in order for local communities to be able to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their residents. We can’t forget that the Oregon Constitution, in it’s very first section, affirms that all power is inherent in the people and that we have at all times a right to alter or reform the government in whatever manner that we deem proper. Without local community self determination, as affirmed by this initiative, those words are hollow and meaningless.”

Judge Bennett of the Marion County Circuit Court will hear the case at 1:30pm on Thursday, November 10th at the county courthouse in Salem.

The proposed constitutional amendment was drafted by the Oregon Community Rights Network (ORCRN) and their political arm, Oregonians for Community Rights (O4CR). The Right of Local Community Self-Government constitutional amendment would codify into law the right of local community self-government, enabling the people and their local governments to protect fundamental rights and prohibit corporate activities that violate those rights. It would secure the authority of communities to put in place stronger rights and protections than those recognized at the state, federal, or international level, but not reduce higher level governmental protections or rights.

“With its determination against this initiative, the State is championing limitations on the people’s constitutional power to the initiative process”, says Ann Kneeland, attorney for the chief petitioners. “As such, the Chief Petitioners of the initiative are fighting not simply for a
rightful decision from the Court that this amendment meets all procedural requirements to be voted on by the people, but also for the proper administration of the initiative system that empowers direct democracy in Oregon.”

Securing the right of local community self-government is pivotal when it comes to a community’s right to confront or advance vital local issues such as GMO crops, police accountability, pesticide use, fossil-fuel pipelines, living wage, rent control, or land use without the threat of state-sanctioned corporate preemption.

County-level community rights efforts in Oregon have been underway to confront an array of corporate projects from LNG pipelines to pesticides to GMOs to coal and oil trains. In each community the aim is to adopt a Community Bill of Rights law that secures the rights of the people and nature over that of unwanted corporate harms.

Oregon also joins Colorado, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, where communities in those states are working to adopt Community Bill of Rights laws on the local level as well as moving very similar state constitutional amendments to secure the right of local community self-government.
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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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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