Wilmington, Los Angeles (03:26)
CELDF director Ben Price discusses how community resistance to environmental toxins is largely ineffective. Ashley Hernandez's neighborhood is located in a "sacrifice zone" next to an oil refinery; the air quality agency has permitted 24 hour flaring.
Licking Town, Pennsylvania (03:36)
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a rural law firm acting as a last resort for communities suffering from environmental toxins. Farm owner Mik Robertson explains the strip mining process and resulting soil and groundwater degradation.
Tamaqua, Pennsylvania (03:30)
School nurse Cathy Miorelli discusses her historic coal mining community's struggle against cancer and shows toxic waste, superfund, and fly ash sites surrounding the town and its water source.
Environmental Protection Failure (03:48)
See clips from a news story about resistance to spreading sludge on Pennsylvania farmland. Price argues that no amount of toxins in drinking water is acceptable—rather than the current legal amount. Few community members benefit from strip mining activities.
United States Environmental Movement (03:05)
The Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio rivers meet in Pittsburgh, where industrial activity has degraded the environment. Former councilmember Doug Shields discusses historical efforts to clean the city. See environmental degradation statistics in the U.S.
Department of Everything Permitted (02:59)
The U.S. regulatory system fails to protect the environment. Fracking companies tried to get drilling rights in Pittsburgh neighborhoods. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection approves environmentally degrading activities to the detriment of community health.
Broadview Heights, Ohio (06:49)
Community organizer Tish O'Dell discusses the influx of oil wells in her suburban neighborhood. City council members are powerless against drilling companies because the state had preempted them in 2004. Resident Louie Chodkiewicz says drillers used extortion against him.
A methane leak forced 2,200 families to relocate from Porter Ranch, California. Environmental regulations do not protect communities; corporations use the legal system to further unsustainable activities. Pittsburgh's Diocese leased the Cavalry Cemetery for drilling.
State Regulatory Doctrines (04:08)
Conventional activism relies on NGOs or the government to challenge the system, which fails to protect communities. Learn about state and federal preemption, Dillon's Rule, the corporate commerce clause, and corporate personhood that prohibit communities from passing local laws.
Challenging Illegitimate Laws (04:12)
Robert Kennedy, Jr. explains that pollution occurs when corporations lobby government not to enforce environmental protection laws. Industrial hog waste polluted waterways in Greene County, North Carolina. Communities are learning that the legal system will not protect them.
Community Empowerment (05:04)
Towns across America are establishing community bills of rights, including the right to a clean environment and local self-government. The Pittsburgh City Council enacted the Community Rights Ordinance in 2010. Dozens of communities also passed rights of nature ordinances.
Adopting Community Empowerment Laws (03:21)
Thomas Linzey of the CELDF explains political avenues for towns to create local bills of rights protecting the environment against pollution. Broadview Heights has prevented any new oil drilling since 2012.
Willamette Valley, Oregon (03:34)
Kate Perle worries about GMOs drifting onto her farm. Attorney Ann Kneeland says an ordinance protecting the local food system was not allowed on the ballot; her group is re-writing it in a series of initiatives.
Challenging Corporate Personhood (05:24)
Corporations are required to operate for shareholder profits, generally at the expense of local communities. Activists are focusing on passing community empowerment and self-government laws—concepts originating during the American Revolution. See news clips from Florida's sugar corporation pollution crisis.
Democracy Problem (05:30)
The U.S. political and economic system supports commerce and corporations over communities and nature. The Declaration of Independence was to restore community self-governance. Congress amended the Articles of Confederation to model the British Empire, weakening the people's power.
Local Self-Government (03:31)
The legal system privileges corporate minorities over community majorities. Linzey and Price discuss the importance of community empowerment for democracy. See news clips from the Flint, Michigan lead poisoning crisis.
Denied a Republican Form of Government (05:21)
States are denying local communities from banning fracking. Citizens are fighting to change the legal system. Broadview Heights residents are trying to get city officials to side with them in a class action suit against drillers and the state of Ohio.
Citizens United (06:06)
The Koch Brothers spent $900 million during the 2016 election cycle; some believe America is becoming an oligarchy. See footage of protestors disrupting the Supreme Court. Linzey argues for a movement to amend the constitution to empower communities.
Saying No to Corporate Rule (02:20)
Shields reflects on passing Pittsburgh's community bill of rights. Over 200 towns and cities have since passed community rights laws. Corporate lawsuits challenging these ordinances reveal flaws in U.S. democracy.
Constitutional Convention Efforts (04:40)
When governments no longer protect citizens' rights, citizens are obligated to amend them. Activists call for a new constitution to address climate change and other 21st century issues. The movement challenging corporate states is spreading internationally.
Credits: We the People 2.0 (04:00)
Credits: We the People 2.0
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