February 17, 2014
Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors
Good Morning. I, Steve Luse, am speaking this morning on behalf of the Community Rights Alliance of Winneshiek County.
First, I wish to express our gratitude to you Supervisors for your work in establishing a county moratorium on Frac Sand Mining.
We would also like to publicly thank the Winneshiek County Protectors for their tireless work in educating the public regarding frac sand extraction and in securing petition signatures for the moratorium.
And, we thank you for your continued efforts caring for our county, and for the time you’ve made for the Community Rights Alliance to share with you during today’s agenda.
We are aware of incidents where your efforts have been maligned. We’ve noted the futility of our local governmental efforts to limit large hog confinement expansions. The state disregarded your thoroughly researched decision and opted to proceed with activities that are detrimental to our county’s economy and future.
You have already been provided with a proposed zoning ordinance amendment regarding frac-sand mining. This zoning ordinance, if adopted, will legalize and “permit”, frac sand mining. The ordinance seeks to encumber the ability to mine frac sand by adding buffer zones, of various designations, thereby creating large parts of the county, as supposedly unavailable to frac sand extraction. We rebuke the idea that legalizing extraction will prevent it happening.
Although Supervisor Logsdon recently reported that in his conversations with legislators, they stated that currently there are no statewide plans to address the issue of frac sand mining. In releasing his frac sand mining effects study, Dr. David Osterberg, of the Iowa Policy Project, noted, “Iowa lawmakers have a history of pre-empting local government from regulating in some areas.” When in the future the legislature passes a state law allowing frac sand extraction, it will exempt your say and hold all authority regarding what happens in our county.
However, the elephant in the room regarding subjugation of local control is the opportunity for large profits. Last week, the Wall Street Journal proclaimed frac sand as “the new gold”. When the price is right, corporations will be diligent in assuring the successes of their business plans. Their business plan, which is to extract the county’s scenery to secure robust profits, has no regard for the consequences to our county and our quality of life. Their lawyers will convince the courts that any buffers or other zoning encumbrances are barriers to their claimed constitutional right under the commerce clause.
Regulating frac sand extraction will not keep the county from being sued, and lawsuits brought are simply the “cost of doing business”, a mere tax deduction for the corporation. When a corporation wants the sand, they have the experience to successfully legally defend their ‘right’ to engage in the commerce of sand extraction in order to secure maximum profits.
The ordinance we present is designed to intentionally provoke controlled confrontations, forcing any corporation’s legal challenge to argue something different than the usual industry strategy. The ordinance will force corporate challengers into becoming the aggressor, needing to argue that their legal standing is dominate over the peoples’ rights to self-government and local control.
What we present today is your alternative to use. It is a Community Bill of Rights ordinance. We have researched and developed it with the assistance of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). It is based upon what they have successfully used to help over 160 other communities to reclaim their local decision making rights.
I will read the short preamble section of the document and then briefly introduce the various different sections of the ordinance. Several sections are written in precise legal language so we anticipate repeated review of the document will be needed.
See the complete text of the ordinance
After today’s ordinance introduction to you we will begin our petition drive. What we envision in this process is to return to this meeting on March 17th to take your response to what we’ve presented as well as questions on the Community Bill of Rights ordinance. At that time we will also provide you with a report on the petition signatures gathered in our efforts to support your important work.
This Community Bill of Rights Ordinance honors the proud heritage of our country and clearly states our community’s right to self-government.
We are giving you this ordinance with the knowledge that when you adopt it you will have an instrument to stop frac sand extraction.
We ask you adopt this ordinance so you can support what the people of the county want, NO Frac sand mining.
We ask that you adopt this ordinance so that you may exercise your authority to set the course of our county to a sustainable future.
We have expectation in the near future of your adopting the ordinance and starting the public readings.
We desire that you will further honor the sanctity of the American Democracy and the way of self-government by having this Community Bill of Rights ordinance adopted before Independence Day, July 4, 2014.