Thursday, January 10, 2013

Longmont, Colorado shows the way

Powerful energy companies like the fictional one in “Promised Land” are strong-arming landowners for drilling rights; the slick lines their leasing representatives use are echoed in the film’s dialogue. Like the fictional residents of McKinley, everyday people are unconvinced by the industry spin, asking tough questions and taking a stand. From coast to coast, some 300 communities have passed measures limiting fracking — from improved protections to outright bans.
In November, the people of Longmont, Colo., voted by a wide margin to ban fracking — rejecting a well-financed industry campaign against the measure. Rather than accept the will of the people, the lobbying group for Colorado’s energy industry sued the town, saying that residents had no right to ban the controversial practice. But in recent rulings, three courts — two in New York and one in Illinois — have rejected similar arguments and upheld local communities’ rights to self-determination.
In one case, in which Earthjustice attorneys are representing the town, an energy company owned by an individual with a net worth of $7.5 billion pressured the residents of Dryden, N.Y. (population 14,500), into signing lease agreements before they understood the risks of fracking.

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