UPDATED: New Mexico Community Rights Movement Challenges Corporate Power, Dirty Oil and Gas Fracking!

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5/7 Update: La Jicarita posted a comprehensive report on Mora County’s community rights ordinance, written by Kay Matthews. It says, “The County lays claim to its authority in passing the Ordinance in Section 2., citing the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Article VIII and Article IX, the Declaration of Independence, the New Mexico Constitution, Article 2, and the Mora County Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which states, “[t]he connection between our land, our water and our people has sustained our culture since the first settlements in Mora County, and our future depends on keeping these connections strong…A sustainable future for Mora County requires protection of the most valuable resource for our communities—the Water!”

5/2 Update: The community rights ordinance passed by Mora  County is gaining national attention with coverage by National GeographicGristE&E News, Occupy.com, Counterpunch. New Mexico Watchdog reports that the spokesman for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association said that “many people in the industry and people who have leased land in Mora County are looking very closely” at filing lawsuits to stop the ordinance. In addition, a local broadsheet called “La Verdad” published this report:


KRQE published this video report on the community rights ordinance in Mora County:

4/29 Update: Today the County Commission of Mora County, located in Northeastern New Mexico, became the first county in the United States to pass an ordinance banning all oil and gas extraction. The Mora County Community Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance establishes a local Bill of Rights – including a right to clean air and water, a right to a healthy environment, and the rights of nature – while prohibiting activities which would interfere with those rights, including oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” for shale gas. Read the full resolution here and learn more via CELDF.

community-rightsIn New Mexico and across the country, local communities are increasingly casting votes for self-determination, passing local laws that establish inalienable rights of nature and the community, restrict the rights of corporations, and ban dangerous practices such as hydraulic fracturing for shale gas. As reported by EcoTrust blog, “it’s part of a growing nationwide movement, inspired and encouraged by a little-known, forward-thinking Pennsylvania-based group called the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. The aim is to reverse the national trend in which individuals and companies legally degrade the clean water, soil, air and broader ecosystems that people and communities depend on everywhere.”

CELDF’s “New Frontiers: Building a Grassroots Movement for Community Rights and the Rights of Nature” via Vimeo.

Here in New Mexico, community rights organizing is going strong in the town of Las Vegas and in neighboring Mora County, and it is also taking root in Santa Fe, Taos and other communities. In Las Vegas, the city council has passed a “Community Bill of Rights” which bans bans natural gas fracking within the municipality, although the mayor has refused to sign the bill and he is now facing a recall campaign from grassroots activists. In Mora County, advocates for community rights won the 2012 election and now hold the majority of seats on the county commission, which they are using to craft an ordinance to ban fracking and protect local water rights. E&E reports the community rights movement is continuing to grow in New Mexico.

The evidence for this growing movement is beginning to appear in Santa Fe. On Tuesday, April 16, 5 to 6 pm, tune in and listen to KSFR 101.1 FM Santa Fe Public Radio host Diego Mulligan interviewing Thomas Linzey, the senior legal counsel for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) during his radio show from 5 to 6 pm. Then on April 19 and 20, CELDF will present a Democracy School in Santa Fe, NM for about 25 participants, followed by a strategy session on building the community rights movement in New Mexico and throughout the Southwest.

In the video below, accomplished New Mexico community rights organizer Kathleen Dudley, with the anti-fracking campaign Drilling Mora County and New Mexico Coalition for Community Rights, speaks to national TV host Thom Hartmann about the ongoing effort to ban fracking in Mora County through a community rights ordinance:

What are the risks to New Mexico from uncontrolled fracking? The video below is a fact finding piece for informational purposes to circumvent the oil and gas industry lies and misinformation. It shows that the threats include toxic contaminated water and human-caused earthquakes. Don’t allow our politicians to ruin New Mexico’s water and land under the false premise of boosting the economy. We can live without natural gas. We can’t live without water!

More Resources and Links:
Model Community Bill of Rights Template for Occupy Communities

The Community Rights Movement and the Arc of Nonviolent Social Change

A New Civil Rights Movement: Liberating Our Communities from Corporate Control

Global Exchange: Community Rights / Rights of Nature Program

The Rise of the Community Rights Movement vs Corporate Power

Paul Cienfuegos offers his inspring knowledge and expertise as a West Coast regional leader of the Community Rights movement. For a selection of Paul’s writings, interviews, and speeches, and for more, go to PaulCienfuegos.com.

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