US municipalities to abolish rights of corporations

Published: Friday 31 August 2007

more than 100 municipalities in the us state of Pennsylvania are declaring the environmental regulations of the state and federal governments null and void. They have, in fact, passed ordinances to abolish the constitutional rights of corporations.

Led by a local environmental group, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (celdf), the municipalities' attempt is to save their townships from corporate control over the environmental permitting process and clearance in the country. "Municipal lawyers and local officials say they have no authority to challenge a 'well settled law' that protects the privileges of corporate minorities from community majorities attempting to exercise their right to self-government," says Ben Price, director of celdf. "The ordinances are designed to return the decision-making power in environmental cases to local bodies."

The townships are primarily fighting the application of biosolids (leftovers of sewage treatment) to farms in the township of East Brunswick, and the dumping of dredged material from the bottom of rivers into an old strip mine near the town of Tamaqua by a company the Lehigh Coal and Navigation.

However, the municipal interference was not taken well. The attorney general of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, threatened to sue the municipal authority for its supposed conflicts with an existing law. But the threat went nowhere after the town's citizens supported the ordinance in a meeting with a representative from Corbett's office. As of now, no other legal challenges have arisen.

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