Corporations, Communities & the Environment
Communities across the country, trying to stop a wide range of threats and unwanted projects such as gas drilling and fracking, mining, pipelines, factory farming, sewage sludging, landfills, coal shipments and GMOs, all run into the same problem: they don’t have the legal authority to say “no” to them. With their high priced lawyers and huge political influence corporadoes shape the law. That may be changing. A recent court ruling in Pennsylvania says that corporations are not “persons.” They cannot elevate their “private rights” above the rights of people. Others can’t wait for the legal system to catch up. Sandra Steingraber, noted biologist and scholar, shortly after appearing on Bill Moyers and on Alternative Radio, has gone to jail. In an act of civil disobedience, Steingraber and others blocked the entrance to a natural gas storage facility in the pristine Seneca Lakes region of upstate New York.
Thomas Linzey is co-founder and executive director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund and serves as its chief legal counsel. He is the author of Be the Change: How to Get What You Want in Your Community. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Mother Jones, and The Nation.
Phil Brooke –
The Pacific Northwest is currently under assault by nearly a dozen coal & crude by rail proposals, which will destroy communities & the environment along their paths. I hope we can all take heart & inspiration from CELDF’s work.
In short, CELDF was pivotal in winning nearly every legal battle it fought, yet was also helping communities lose the war. CELDF shut down its office in the throes of crisis. “Environmental law” was built upon the framework of the constitution, which in turn was based on English Common Law, which was designed to accomplish three things: 1. protect property rights 2. promote commerce and 3. legalize colonialism.
Thanks to our colonizing legal system, corporations use civil rights statutes to sue (real) individuals and communities into submission. At the same time, corporate-designed environmental laws “regulate the environmentalists” by creating a predictable and ultimately ineffective set of rules and processes to oppose environmental destruction.
Rural farm communities helped CELDF reopen their doors with a mission to rewrite our legal system into one that inherently recognizes and respects the *sovereign rights* of local communities and natural ecosystems. Together, they have created alternative community legal models, and are helping to organize local communities everywhere into a cohesive national and even global movement to assert and protect their sovereign rights.
If you’ve read this far, you should listen to the speech. It is far more informative and inspiring than anything that I’ve written above. What Thomas Linzey has to say is of a such fundamental, pivotal importance, it is extremely serendipitous that he is also an excellent and engaging orator.
Elizabeth Frank –
I only caught the tail end of a talk by Linzey this afternoon on Alternative Radio; what I heard grabbed my attention.and made me take time out from my farm work to fire up the computer and find a way to order the talk and spread the word of what I heard concerning the legal battle that is emerging for the “Rights of Nature”, globally.
Vermont is under assault by not only Monsanto, but Entergy, (also known as Gaz Metro from Canada and “”Vt. natural Gas”) who are trying to run a Fracked gas pipeline through a state that has banned tracking!
Monsanto has threatened to sue the state if a GMO labeling law is passed. Both of these battles have major hurdles arriving this fall…we all need to come together and stop these monolithic corporations from destroying our planet any further…time has run out!
Thomas Lindsey and his “Community Environmental Defense Fund” (and others) are showing a way and providing inspiration to change the paradigm and legally stand up to these environmental bullies. I hope people will join this grassroots, global effort and spread the word.
To the Editors,
Some of A.R.’s best work, to my mind, a repeat? or a second appearance? maybe I missed the first half last time it was aired, anyway, the townships in Pennsylvania represent a step in human evolution, our ability to organize and govern ourselves, and as my union goes into negotiations with a recent history of almost total capitulation because of the rampant unemployment and Wal Mart / Thatcher’s evisceration of the unions’ bargaining power in the political capital of anglo american culture, I’ve been looking at West Coast Hotels v. Parrish, and other moments, the F.L.S.A., I guess, when the right thing to do was grant human rights to those suffering to too great an extent:
“the Constitution permitted the restriction of liberty of contract by state law where such restriction protected the community, health and safety, or vulnerable groups.”
it went on to say that the wages must provide for necessities, rather than burdening the taxpayers, evidence of which wholesale increase of qualifications for Food Stamps and Obamacare represent
seems to me this is precisely the sort of precedent Linzey needs if he is, in court to demonstrate that it is not absolutely ahistorical for the runamok forces of corporate legal power to take a loss, be found in the wrong, and accede to the needs of the human race, rather than the corporation’s need for status/ reputation as inviolate…is that the word? inviolate? holier than thou? whatever
Thanks Mr B.
Annette Jackson –
Get fired up people!…Mr. Linzey is right, we NEED activist right now NOT rhetoric, more scientific data, etc….and we don’t have time to waste hoping the government, your neighbor, or someone else will take care of things!