Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mora County Bill of Rights Ordinance Sued by Coporate Oil Interests

"“We’ll take it as it comes,” Olivas told the Optic during a telephone interview on Wednesday. “It is unfortunate that municipalities and counties in northern New Mexico cannot say no to corporations without the threat of lawsuits. Mora County is in support of protecting its land, air and water, and the purpose of the ordinance was just that.”

Olivas has said that there have been attorneys from around the country lining up and promising to defend Mora County if it were to be sued."

 Alfonso Griego, vice chairman of the Mora County Board of Commissioners, on Thursday declined to discuss the lawsuit but defended the county’s right to pass the ordinance.

“It’s about the water. My ultimate goal is to protect the water sources of Mora County against contamination,” he said.

Griego said the state should not have the right to prohibit the county from passing a drilling ban. “The state doesn’t live in Mora County. We the people live in Mora County. It’s our right to see how want to live; that’s afforded to us by both the state and federal constitutions.”

"Kathleen Dudley, a CELDF community rights organizer, said the lawsuit differs from other legal challenges to municipal fracking bans in that it directly challenges the legal theory that asserts corporations are legal persons.

“The focus on the lawsuit won’t be on fracking but on challenging the current fact that corporations, like the plaintiffs, actually have more rights than the people of Mora County. That’s why it’s being taken into federal court,” she said. “We don’t have a fracking problem. We actually have a democracy problem.”

April 29th, 2013, Mora County Commissioners passed the first county-wide Community Bill of Rights ordinance in the country.  This CELDF Community Rights ordinance bans oil and gas and other hydrocarbons from being drilled and fracked in Mora County.

Lafeyette, CO. last week passed a similar CELDF Community Bill of Rights through the initiative process.  60% of the voters voted in favour of this ballot referendum that put the vote out to the general public, rather than leaving it to the vote and decision-making of a few elected officials.  The democratic process for Lafeyette citizens was their first opportunity to assert their rights to local decision-making, local self-determination, and ultimately assert their rights to protect their future rather being faced with mitigating the harms industry would otherwise cause in their communities by drilling and fracking.

Mora County Commission Chair, John Olivas, sponsor of the Mora County Community Bill of Rights ordinance, referes to himself as a public servant.  Commissioner Olivas ran his campaign platform in 2010 to protect Mora County by banning oil and gas drilling and fracking.  He along with newly elected Commissioner Alfonso Griego, voted 2:1 to ban oil and gas in the county with Commissioner Paula Garcia, voting against the ordinance.

The lawsuit filed yesterday against the Mora County Commission has opened the door for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, CELDF, to legally defend the Mora County Commission's new law that asserts people's rights that protects their health, welfare and safety against corporate privileged interests over those of the people living within Mora County.

New Mexico Coalition for Community Rights