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PRESS RELEASE - Lafayette to Meet with Internationally Respected Law Firm as Council Prepares for Drilling

February 27, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Lafayette to Meet with Internationally Respected Law Firm as Council Prepares for Drilling

 

When:  Monday, March 5, 6:30 - 9 pm

Where:  Lafayette Pubic Library, 775 W Baseline Rd, Lafayette

 

Five years of community demands have compelled a town hall meeting between the Lafayette City Council and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) on March 5 at the Lafayette Public Library. The town hall will be an official assembly of the Lafayette City Council and will feature Thomas Linzey, attorney and executive director of CELDF. It will be the first time public demand for a rights-based legal defense against oil and gas drilling will be discussed in an official and transparent manner.

 

The discussion and debate come at a critical time as the majority of Lafayette City Councilors are now working to enact guidelines for comprehensive oil and gas development within city limits. The regulations, which are nearly identical to those recently adopted by Boulder County, include provisions to address “explosions; fires; gas, oil or water pipeline leaks or ruptures; hydrogen sulfide or other toxic gas emissions; or hazardous material vehicle accidents or spills.” Additional rules include emergency evacuation plans, the local flaring of volatile organic compounds, and provisions for medical emergencies related to drilling within Lafayette.

 

Lafayette proposed drilling regulations can be found here:

http://www.cityoflafayette.com/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/3192

 

 

History

 

The Lafayette City Council and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association evaded a rights-based legal defense in 2013 after community members adopted the Community Bill of Rights city charter amendment by citizen initiative. Following a 60% vote in favor of the measure, which is today the most comprehensive ban on fossil fuel extraction in state history, Lafayette was sued by COGA. The Lafayette City Council and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association opposed both public involvement and the legal strategy that banned drilling as a violation of the community’s right to local self-government, and right to clean air, water, and peaceful enjoyment of home. The City Council and COGA filed a motion to deny intervention against initiative proponent East Boulder County United to prevent EBCU from being a party to the lawsuit and insisting on a rights-based legal defense. Following the successful removal of community members and a rights-based legal defense from the litigation, COGA won the lawsuit, and the City of Lafayette refused appeal.

 

Today

 

On March 21, 2017, the City of Lafayette approved the Lafayette Climate Bill of Rights but has yet to implement it. That ordinance reflects the demands of a growing number of residents across economic and party lines; these residents fiercely and adamantly reject further environmental degradation and proclaim the right to undeterred self-government.

 

CELDF

 

CELDF works with communities around the world facing a range of threats from fracking, to pipelines, to factory farms, to sludge dumping and more. Communities are recognizing that these seemingly “single” issue threats share something in common – the community doesn’t have the legal authority to say “No” to them. The existing structure of law ensures that people cannot govern their own communities – cannot act as stewards of their own environment. Corporate “rights” and interests are given preference over those of communities and nature.

As a leading threat to corporate power, CELDF has recently been targeted for punitive measures by a Pennsylvania federal court judge and the oil and gas industry. CELDF had been working with Grant Township, PA, a small rural community fighting a liquid waste injection well.  Federal magistrate judge Susan Paradise Baxter ordered a $52,000 fine against attorney Thomas Linzey  and a colleague and a disciplinary review by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It is the first such repressive measure in the CELDF’s 15-year history and signals an escalation of attacks against both communities and the legal teams working to protect them.

 

Rolling Stone magazine wrote about the Grant Township case:

 

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-rights-of-nature-movement-goes-on-trial-w515299

 

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/how-a-small-town-is-standing-up-to-fracking-w482577

 

Undeterred, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) has offered to provide free legal counsel to the City of Lafayette in the event City Council agrees to implement the ban on oil and gas development (fracking) within city limits.

 

Learn more about Thomas Linzey and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund here: https://celdf.org/

 

Learn more about history and the grassroots efforts of East Boulder County United here: https://www.eastbocounited.org/

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