- Date published:
12:23 pm, November 12th, 2016 - 13 comments
Categories: activism, climate change, democratic participation - Tags: activism, civil disobedience, fracking, water protectors
There are increasing signs of local people standing up against state law and corporate power when the things they value are threatened – everything from Standing Rock to councils in NZ voting to oppose deep sea drilling. We can take heart from this – remember the Peace Movement in NZ, and how much of that was people who cared working locally and regionally? As one Standardista pointed out a while ago “Good to remember our nuclear-free status began with some of us in Devonport posting simple A4 pages in our windows saying NO! to nuclear ships.” Brilliant.
In May a press statement from US-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund announced that a town in Pennsylvania has now passed a law legalising civil disobedience in relation to local fracking.
Grant Township, Indiana County, PA: Tonight, Grant Township Supervisors passed a first-in-the-nation law that legalizes direct action to stop frack wastewater injection wells within the Township. Pennsylvania General Energy Company (PGE) has sued the Township to overturn a local democratically-enacted law that prohibits injection wells.
If a court does not uphold the people’s right to stop corporate activities threatening the well-being of the community, the ordinance codifies that, “any natural person may then enforce the rights and prohibitions of the charter through direct action.” Further, the ordinance states that any nonviolent direct action to enforce their Charter is protected, “prohibit[ing] any private or public actor from bringing criminal charges or filing any civil or other criminal action against those participating in nonviolent direct action.”
Grant Township Supervisor Stacy Long explained, “We’re tired of being told by corporations and our so-called environmental regulatory agencies that we can’t stop this injection well! This isn’t a game. We’re being threatened by a corporation with a history of permit violations, and that corporation wants to dump toxic frack wastewater into our Township.”
CELDF community organizer Chad Nicholson has been working with the community since 2014. He added, “In our country’s history, we celebrate people standing up to challenge unjust laws. The American Revolution, abolition, women’s suffrage, the labor and civil rights movements, marriage equality – all required people to take action resisting illegitimate laws. All required creating new and more just laws in their place. We applaud the people of Grant Township for taking action as their community is threatened, and asserting their rights. It is an honor to stand with them.”
In NZ we have our own proud history. Off the top of my head and in no particular order – Save Manapouri, Nuclear-free NZ, the anti-Tour movement, women’s suffrage, the Māori protest movement renaissance of the 70s through to now (not to mention the past 200 years), homosexual law reform, Reclaim the Night marches through to the ongoing challenges to rape culture… I really would like to make a comprehensive list, but suffice to say we have this in our culture and our bones.
No-one is coming to save us, but it’s not too late and we have the resources now to stand up and make a difference. Change always happens first from the edge, and then it gets noticed when the mainstream takes it on board and agrees. We need a strong activist culture and we need those who can work with the powers that be to take that change and build it into the structure of our society.