Colorado Supreme Court To Rule on Longmont & Fort Collins Lawsuits

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Coloradans for Community Rights (CCR)
Colorado Community Rights Network (COCRN)

Contacts:

Merrily Mazza, [email protected] 720-556-1286

Cliff Willmeng, [email protected] 303-478-6613

Tom Groover, [email protected] 303-709-3327

Email: [email protected]

Website: http://coloradansforcommunityrights.org and http://cocrn.org/

Colorado Supreme Court to Rule on Lawsuits

The Colorado Supreme Court will soon rule on the Colorado Oil & Gas Association’s suits against the communities of Longmont and Fort Collins. Many hold out hope that the Court will finally come down on the side of the people. We don’t share that wishful thinking.

The laws on which the Court will base its decision were written with a singular purpose: to protect corporate interests from democracy. The Longmont and Fort Collins bans,unfortunately, did not take this purpose into account and hence were not written to challenge the anti-democratic premises on which the cases will be decided.

This Court decision won’t be historic, as some believe. It will likely be another victory for state-enabled corporations—little different than the rulings against Greeley in 1992 and Summit County in 2009—continuing the Court’s pattern of invoking state preemption on behalf of industry and against people and their communities.

Why won’t the Supreme Court judges resolve the question of local control over fracking in favor of the people? Because the cities haven’t asked them to. Longmont and Fort Collins, as municipal subdivisions of the state, have argued that their governmental power to regulate oil and gas corporations is not preempted by the state. Their arguments fail to distinguish between the governmental power of municipalities to enact local laws and the inalienable right of the people to engage in local community self-government. Furthermore, because the people’s right of local community self-government is an inalienable right, it must not be interfered with by the state, corporations, or any other power. But that case was never made.

And so the Court will likely ignore the self-governing rights of people and concentrate instead on whether a local fracking ban is within a “local” government’s “local” authority, as the Court did when the infamous Voss case made Greeley a sacrifice zone for oil and gas extraction. And we’ll be left where we started—with no real remedy other than negotiating with corporations and state agencies to regulate the rate at which our communities are harmed.

A few minor concessions may be handed to the cities allowing nominally greater regulation of fracking through land use laws, and some in the environmental caucus of non-profits will hail those crumbs as substantial victories. But Colorado communities face a problem much bigger than fracking—it’s the inherent conflict between corporate interests and the democratic rights of the people. Because our system of law elevates corporate rights over people’s rights, our only alternative is to fight for systemic change. That’s not what’s been done in Longmont and Fort Collins, but it’s what we intend to do.

Acknowledging and enforcing our fundamental right of local community self-government will set the stage for new democratic protections ranging from local control of corporate projects to affordable housing and creation of a local living wage.

This is why Coloradans must pass the state constitutional ballot initiative known as the Colorado Community Rights Amendment. The measure, led by a grassroots effort of Colorado communities, workers, and environmental organizers, addresses the problem at its root. It brings power and democracy back to where it belongs—the communities where we live, work, and raise our families. The measure is being officially submitted to the State of Colorado. We are now training petitioners in preparation for the 2016 ballot and a direct vote of the people of Colorado.

Our campaign won’t end until our right of local community self-government is acknowledged and enshrined in the Colorado Constitution. We can turn the tide on corporate power and make the 2016 election one for the history books.