The resolution, “Make Community and Individual Rights Superior to Those of Corporate Persons,” takes a shot at unnamed corporations that threaten “public health” and trigger “air pollution, potential risk to citizen water supplies, chemical trespass, and lawsuits against local communities seeking to protect their community welfare.”
While fracking is never mentioned, the resolution appears to refer to the state’s oil and gas industry, which filed three lawsuits last year against towns that approved bans on hydraulic fracturing.
The language was added to the party’s platform on a voice vote Saturday at the end of the Democratic Party State Assembly at the Colorado Convention Center. At that point, the party had nominated all its statewide candidates for the Nov. 4 election and most if not all had left the meeting.
Among those not present for the vote on the resolution was Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, a strong advocate of oil and gas development who’s finding himself increasingly undercut on the issue by members of his own party.
The Democratic resolution also bears similarities to the Colorado Community Rights Amendment, a proposed anti-fracking initiative attempting to qualify for the November ballot.
In fact, organizers of the Colorado Community Rights Network, the Lafayette-based group behind the proposed initiative, applauded the resolution in a Sunday post on their Facebook page.
“We are hoping that local officials can be approached for endorsement of ballot initiative number 75, the Colorado Community Rights Amendment based on this platform,” said the post.
The proposed amendment declares an “inherent right to local self-government,” and expands the powers of local governments to include “the power to define or eliminate the rights and powers of corporations or business entities to prevent them from interfering with those fundamental rights.”
Also known as Initiative 75, the proposal would give local communities “the power to enact laws to establish and protect fundamental rights of individuals, communities, and nature.”
The proposal is aimed at giving communities the right to ban hydraulic fracturing and oil and gas development within their borders, although the anti-corporation language could extend to other businesses unrelated to the energy industry.
The Democratic Party resolution states that individual and community rights should trump those of corporations, which have been given “special entitlements, privileges, access and exemptions and treated as if their rights are superior to the natural, essential and inalienable rights of individual persons.”
“[T]hat when there is a conflict involving the natural, essential and inalienable rights of individual persons and the communities in which they live, the Colorado Democratic Party supports the protection of the rights of those individual persons, as well as the right of local communities to represent and protect their residents,” the resolution says.
Three localities—Lafayette, Longmont and Fort Collins—were sued last year after passing anti-fracking measures. The Lafayette and Fort Collins lawsuits were filed by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association following the November vote, while the Longmont lawsuit was filed by COGA and the state Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
Democrats voted Saturday to add 10 resolutions to the party platform, including language opposing the Keystone XL pipeline.
The oil-and-gas industry generated $29.6 billion for the Colorado economy in 2012, along with 110,000 jobs and $1.6 billion in tax revenue, according to a July 2013 study by the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business.
MAKE COMMUNITY AND INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS SUPERIOR TO THOSE OF CORPORATE PERSONS
WHEREAS, Article II, section 3 of the Colorado Constitution states: “All persons have certain natural, essential, and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness;” and
WHEREAS, among these rights are the right to fair and equitable treatment under the law, the rights to clean air and water, and the rights to protect property and health; and
WHEREAS, corporate persons have been given special entitlements, privileges, access and exemptions and treated as if their rights are superior to the natural, essential and inalienable rights of individual persons; and
WHEREAS, the grant of special entitlements to some corporate persons or groups of corporate persons has resulted in exploitation, decreased protection of the public health, preferential tax treatment of some industries, increased community infrastructure costs as well as increased air pollution, potential risk to citizen water supplies, chemical trespass, and lawsuits against local communities seeking to protect their community welfare;
BE IT RESOLVED that when there is a conflict involving the natural, essential and inalienable rights of individual persons and the communities in which they live, the Colorado Democratic Party supports the protection of the rights of those individual persons, as well as the right of local communities to represent and protect their residents.