Shepstone Management Company, Inc.
Kevin Moody, General Counsel for PIOGA just gave attendees at Shale Insight a primer on the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF).
The CELDF has no more effective counter than the good folks at the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association (PIOGA). Attorney Kevin Moody, their General Counsel and Vice-President for Governmental Affairs, has helped beat the CELDF in court. He also gave a dynamite presentation on the group at this week’s Marcellus Shale Coalition Shale Insight conference. Kevin shared a copy and we’re privileged to offer a pdf version here, but there are some highlights too importance to miss.
Moody lays out the case very methodically, as a good lawyer always does. He starts with a very effective highlighted version of the CELDF mission statement:
Notice the radical Jacobin nature of the statement, which is intent on rejecting the Constitutional rights on which our nation is built. The CELDF is no ordinary environmental group. It’s not an environment group at all, in fact. Environmentalism is but the cover story. The idea is to create a new framework that makes every one of America’s tens of thousands of municipalities a separate nation. The intended result, of course, is chaos that will give CELDF types power. How? The answer, of course, is by bestowing rights on “natural communities and ecosystems” as “persons” and authorizing any resident or the municipality (represented by the CELDF) to enforce or defend these rights on behalf of the ecosystem or natural community. It’s a childish, yet insidious, scheme.
Moody also points the CELDF targets are far from limited to fracking, something often missed by those reporting on it. It attacks companies involved with “water privatization” (bottled water), sewage sludge, “unsustainable energy,” agriculture and timber. Anything remotely corporate in nature gets its attention as well as any rock, river or other element of nature the group can argue it should be allowed to represent. Tom Linzey, the group’s founder and principal schemer, is also pretty bold about it, as Kevin explains in this slide:
Lindsey, says Moody, admits his “community rights” ordinances are contrary to state and federal law and then knowingly orchestrates supporters to put sufficient pressure on local officials to adopt something that is contrary to state law. He even wrote this provision into Grant Township’s ordinance (which, unsurprisingly, went nowhere with the courts):
Through the adoption of this Ordinance, the people of Grant Township call for amendment of the Pennsylvania Constitution and the federal Constitution to recognize a right to local self-government free from governmental preemption and or nullification by corporate ‘rights.’
The people of Grant Township, in other words, were used and manipulated to make a political statement they thought was about injection wells, but was really about advancing Tom Linzey’s revolutionary Marxist agenda. They were conned into supporting legislation clearly violating the Supremacy, Equal Protection, Contracts and First Amendment Petition Clauses of the Constitution as well as the substantive and procedural due process protections of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.
Moody also uses the Pennsylvania Constitution to illustrate Linzey’s “home rule” arguments are bogus:
There is, in fact, nothing in the Pennsylvania Constitution or home rule case law to even remotely support the CELDF proposition that municipalities can override state and Federal constitutional rights. Lindsey even brags that ”As with the movements that went before us, we must become revolutionaries, not reformers,” a statement that ought to be a red flag (literally) for any community entertaining his nonsense. They would, as Moody cautions, do well to bear in mind the oath of office required of them under the Commonwealth’s Constitution:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth and that I will discharge the duties of my office with fidelity.
There’s no reconciling of this oath with support for Linzey’s position, of course, which brings us to this last slide about the risks municipal officials seduced by Linzey’s schtick ought to consider before taking the leap into bed with him:
This was a very good presentation that captures the radicalism of the CELDF. It is this extremism that needs more attention. Too many groups caught in local battles with the group fall for the con; that it’s about the bottled water, the hog farms, the timbering or the fracking. It’s not; it’s never about those things. Playing that game only empowers this dangerous threat to the republican model of government that has given America everything that makes it special. Benjamin Franklin wondered aloud if we could keep it and we have for two and quarter centuries. We certainly won’t, though, if we fall for the demagoguery and deceit practiced by the likes of the CELDF.