Time to Start Prosecuting Towns that Pass Illegal Frack Bans?

indictmentAs a general rule and principle, local control over decisions that affect an entire community is a good thing. Our great country as founded gives precedence to individual freedom. However, what do you do when two neighbors disagree on an important, community-changing issue? Our founding fathers wrestled with this concept and crafted an ingenious solution. If everyone in a community voted on every issue, the founding fathers recognized such a system descends into mob rule. However, in order to preserve democracy and cherished individual freedom, people should have the right to vote. Instead of voting on every issue, the founders created a system where citizens┬ávote for small groups of representatives who act as a buffer between the “mob” and common sense/fairness for everyone–people who dedicate their time to understanding issues, how their constituents feel about those issues, and then voting in accordance with their own conscience and findings. Such a representative democracy is called a republic, which is the political system we have in the United States (NOT a straight up democracy). Even among the layers of elected representatives (local, state, federal) there is a pecking order. The founders recognized there are certain rights and issues best decided and enforced on either the federal or state level, rather than the local level. Each local community (lets call it a township) does NOT have the right to craft its own constitution and confer rights on individuals, corporations, eco-systems or any other entity. Conferring of such rights is the purview of either the federal or state government–NOT a local government. For example, in every state in the union oil and gas development is regulated by the state–not by local entities. In some states, Pennsylvania among them, zoning can affect and influence oil and gas development–where it happens, when it happens–but not control how it happens. So what if a community decides to ban oil and gas development (or pipelines, or injection wells)–in other words, “whether” such an activity happens? Such a ban is illegal. Introducing zoning regulations that result in a de facto ban is also illegal–but it’s happening in pockets across the Keystone State. Perhaps it’s time to criminally charge local representatives who pass these illegal laws (laws that trample individual property rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution) under a PA law called “official oppression.” That’s what the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association (PIOGA) is considering right now…

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