CELDF, February 13, 2008


[Rachel's introduction: In Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, California, and Virginia (so far), municipalities have passed laws denying specific rights to corporations. As you read through this extraordinary list of innovative statutes, let your imagination roam: what if your town took action to restrict corporate power? Who knows where it would end?]

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) in Chambersburg, Pa., provides a Local Ordinance Drafting service for municipal governments in Pennsylvania.

This project has been immensely successful at bringing community empowering ordinances to local governments.

Two popular ordinances drafted by the Fund are: (1) The Southampton Township Farm Ownership Ordinance -- modeled after the statutes of eight mid-western states (Anti-Corporate Farming Laws in the Heartland) which prohibit corporate ownership of farms; and (2) The Wayne Environmental Protection Ordinance -- which grants the power to the Township Supervisors to exclude corporations with criminal histories from operating within the Township. The Wayne Ordinance was passed in 1998 by Wayne Township, Mifflin County. The Southampton Ordinance was developed in March of 1999, and has become law in a dozen townships. CELDF ordinances have been presented for passage to local governments in Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire and Oregon.

Other ordinances available for passage include (1) The Corporate Ownership and Disclosure Ordinance -- requiring corporations doing business in a local area to file their articles and bylaws with the local government, (2) The Solar Ordinance -- requiring the installation of solar hot water heaters in any new residential housing developments; (3) The Recycling Ordinance -- requiring local governments to use high content, chlorine-free recycled paper for office operations; and (4) The Noxious Odors Control Ordinance - regulating noxious odors released from large agricultural operations.

The Legal Defense Fund not only incorporates progressive statutes and language into local Ordinances for passage at the local government level, but also accepts requests from Townships for customized Ordinances that they can present for passage.

Currently, the Environmental Protection Ordinance is listed with the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) as a Model Ordinance for passage by Township Supervisors and Borough Councils in Pennsylvania.

Through this program area, CELDF has drafted the following Ordinances for use by local governments and grassroots community organizations (click on Ordinance title to read full text):

Mahanoy Township Sustainable Energy Ordinance -- sets up a local energy policy that prohibits any new unsustainable energy production within the municipality, and commits the community to a gradual transition to sustainable energy production for homes and businesses.

Montgomery County Anti-Corporate Takings and Securing Local Self- Governance Ordinance -- Prohibits corporations from taking private property by power of eminent domain.

Blaine Township Corporate Land Development Ordinance -- Prohibits use of corporations for land development, with limited exceptions .

Blaine Township Corporate "Rights" Ordinance -- eliminates constitutional privileges from corporations at the municipal level. The Ordinance, in effect, eliminates Fourteenth Amendment protections. Proohibits corporate contributions to candidates for elected office within the Township.

Blaine Township Corporate Mining and Democratic Self-Governance Ordinance -- prohibits mining corporations from purchasing mineral rights or land for mining, and prohibits mining corporations from interfering with the civil rights of residents, including residents' right to self-government.

New Ordinance Prohibiting Land Application of Sewage Sludge - Updated and more powerful than The Rush Township Sewage Sludge Ordinance, this new Ordinance was drafted with municipal government and citizen input in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. It bans corporations from engaging in the land application of sewage sludge, recognizes citizen right to sue on behalf of ecosystems and codifies the right of citizen enforcement.

Southampton Anti-Corporate Farming Ordinance -- (The Southampton Family Farm Protection Ordinance) -- prohibits agribusiness corporate ownership of farmland and limits corporate involvement in farming. Adopted by ten local governments in Fulton, Bedford, Bradford, Indiana, and Cumberland Counties in Pennsylvania.

FAQ: Southampton Anti-Corporate Farming Ordinance

Wayne Township Environmental Protection Ordinance -- (The Wayne "Three Strikes and You're Out" Ordinance) -- enables local governments to prohibit corporations from doing business in certain localities if the corporation has a history of violating statutory and regulatory laws. Adopted by local governments in Fulton and Mifflin Counties in Pennsylvania. A version of this Ordinance is under review by groups in Humboldt County, California as the model for a potential Countywide referendum.

Summary of Wayne and Southampton Ordinances -- Local Control and Corporate Power -- an overview of the two ordinances listed above.

The Thompson Corporate Personhood Ordinance -- eliminates constitutional privileges from corporations at the municipal level. The Ordinance, in effect, eliminates Fourteenth Amendment protections from corporations in a municipality, and will be used to establish a test case for corporate personhood in the U.S. Supreme Court. One local government in Pennsylvania is considering the Ordinance.

Anti-Corporate Water Withdrawal -- prohibits corporations from owning, withdrawing, or hauling water from the community. Eliminates constitutional privileges from corporations at the municipal level.

The Rights of Nature Ordinance -- asserts that natural communities and ecosystems possess inalienable and fundamental rights to exist and prosper and prohibits corporations or business entities -- or persons acting in corporate or business capacities -- from denying those rights, or interfering with the vitality or functioning of those communities or ecosystems. It further prohibits the Township from enforcing any law which would abridge the rights of natural communities and ecosystems.

The Rush Township Sewage Sludge Ordinance -- Authorizes a municipal government to assess a fee for every ton of sewage sludge applied by sludge corporations to farmland or mine reclamation sites in a municipality. The fee is then used to test whether the content of the sewage sludge meets state regulatory requirements. This Ordinance has been adopted by more than seventy communities across Pennsylvania. However, industry influence in the state assembly threatens to preempt local democracy and perhaps nullify the Ordinance.The Legal Defense Fund has developed a New Ordinance Prohibiting Land Application of Sewage Sludge, which is designed to challenge such usurpations and assert local control.

Sewage Sludge Land Application Registration Form (PDF File)

Saint Thomas Township Surface Mining Ownership and Control Ordinance -- prohibits non-family owned corporate or synidicate ownership of any real estate used for surface mining, or corporate engagement in surface mining in the Township, and provides for certain limited exceptions to corporate or syndicate ownership, and for enforcement and penalties for violation of the Ordinance.

Windsor Township Product Retailing Ordinance -- prohibits persons from using certain corporations or syndicates for the retail selling of products; provides for certain limited exceptions, and provides for enforcement and penalties for violation of the Ordinance.

Windsor Township Corporate Land Development Ordinance -- prohibits persons from using certain corporations or syndicates for land development; provides for certain limited exceptions, and provides for enforcement and penalties for violation of the Ordinance.

Township Ownership and Control Disclosure Ordinance -- requires corporations doing business in local government jurisdictions to file copies of the corporation's articles of incorporation and bylaws with the local governing authority. This Ordinance is currently under review by two local governments in Pennsylvania.

Township Defense of Civil Liberties Ordinance -- nullifies authority granted to federal agencies illegitimately conferred by Congress under the authority of the USA PATRIOT Act that infringe upon the civil liberties and civil rights of the residents of the Township. Nullifies the USA PATRIOT Act, the Homeland Security Act, and regulations and Executive Orders implemented under the authority of those laws for residents of the Township, the Township Supervisors, and employees of the Township. It further prohibits Township employees from engaging in unlawful detentions or profiling of citizens in violation of their rights and liberties as defined by the Fourteenth Amendment and prohibits Township employees from voluntarily cooperating in the violation of those rights.

National Animal Identification System Ordinance -- Nullifies the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) at the municipal level; eliminates ability of agribusiness corporations to privately enforce the NAIS; eliminates all corporate claims to constitutional "rights" and powers; recognizes right for independent family livestock farmers to make a living from farming.

Sustainable Energy Ordinance -- Prohibits unsustainable energy production within a municipality, defined as energy produced from fossil fuels and nuclear sources; establishes a Sustainable Energy Policy at the municipal level; mandates transition towards renewable energy use within the municipality; provides municipal monies for that transition; eliminates all corporate claims to constitutional "rights" and powers.

Corporate Chemical Trespass Ordinance -- Recognizes the right of people to be free from involuntary corporate chemical trespass; requires a municipality to sue corporations and corporate managers for compensation for trespass; eliminates all corporate claims to constitutional "rights" and powers; creates a category of criminal violation for chemical trespass; provides municipal monies for chemical testing.

Anti-Corporate Waste Hauling Ordinance -- Prohibits corporations from hauling certain types of toxic, hazardous, and nuclear waste through a municipality; eliminates all corporate claims to constitutional "rights" and powers.

The Monroe Odor Control Ordinance -- requires agribusiness corporations to use best management practices to control noxious odors emanating from their facilities. This Ordinance is currently under review by two local governments in Pennsylvania.

Rockland Township Water Supply Protection Act -- (The Rockland Water Usage Ordinance)- requires any new, corporate, large users of water supplies within a local jurisdiction to prepare a Water Impact Study to show that industrial and commercial use of water will not have an adverse impact on groundwater supplies. This Ordinance has been adopted by five local governments in Pennsylvania and is under consideration by three other local governments.

Fly Control Ordinance -- Requiring Best Management Practices - requires all new large-scale agricultural operations to adopt a management plan for the management of flies, and to pay a permit fee that enables the municipality to create an oversight and enforcement authority for those facilities.

Ordinance Banning Genetically Modified Crops, and Vindicating Local Self-Government. -- bans the use, sale, and transfer of genetically modified crops within a municipality, and eliminates the authority of agribusiness corporations to sue the municipality over the local law.

Township Environmental Impact Statement Ordinance -- requires all corporations proposing a particular project within a particular municipality to draft an Environmental Impact Statement, and then select the "most environmentally sound" alternative to the project being proposed.

Ordinance Establishing Preferential Bidding for Locally Owned Businesses -- enables a local government to select an entity other than the "low-bidder" for the awarding of contracts and bids, enables a local government to prefer locally owned businesses over other business entities submitting bids for particular projects.

Recycling Ordinance -- requires a municipality to use a certain percentage of recycled paper products.

Solar Ordinance -- requires new housing developments to install solar- powered hot water heaters within those residences.

Ordinance Creating an Environmental Advisory Council to the Township - creates an Advisory Council within a local government to advise the local government on environmental issues.

Sunshine Act Local Ordinance -- creates a higher standard for local government than under State Sunshine Act laws, for the production of documents by a local government to a requesting resident of that municipality.

"The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in essence, is fascism -- ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling power. Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing." -- President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. (One Thousand Americans, George Seldes, page 5.)

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