March 17th 2011
As more information about the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," (a technique used during natural gas drilling) emerges, more and more cities and municipalities are organizing to keep drilling and fracking out of their own communities, but are surprised to find that they do not have the legal authority to say “no” to these corporate activities.
Last week, Mountain Lake Park, Maryland, with fewer than 2,500 residents, became the latest community to do something about this, adopting the state’s first ordinance banning corporations from natural gas drilling.
Drafted with the help of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, the ordinance comes on the heels of the City of Pittsburgh’s ordinance banning drilling by corporations, adopted in November. Both ordinances also eliminate the authority of corporations to wield their constitutional rights to override the municipality's wishes. Such constitutional rights and powers are often used by corporations to overturn local and state laws adopted to protect the environment and public health.
A similar ordinance was recently introduced in Wales, New York; it comes up for a vote in April. If adopted, it would make Wales the first community in New York to restrict corporate rights and ban corporations from drilling.