Check out the importance of the U.S. constitution in the efforts to ban hydraulic fracturing within the city limits of Las Vegas, NM. That’s a small town in New Mexico, not the gambling capital.
Here’s the money quote in an article in the Albuquerque Journal, Group Seeks To Prohibit Fracking from Ms. Hern, a board member of the group which helped write a law which would have banned fracking inside city limits:
Asked about the constitutionality of the ordinance, Hern said, “What people don’t understand is sometimes we have to step outside the boundaries of the Constitution to get things done. Laws are made to protect corporations and we need laws that protect Mother Earth – earth, air and water.”
The city council approved the ban. The mayor refused to sign it.
He said the ban as written will supersede city, state, and federal law. If he is correct, that would make the ordinance unconstitutional. I would hope that is the guiding principle following by all mayors.
The city attorney defends the mayor’s decision in a phone interview with the Albuquerque Journal:
… Romero (the city attorney) said without a doubt the ordinance is unconstitutional, and that’s why the mayor refused to sign it, effectively vetoing the measure. “To sign a document that declares those sacred documents – the city charter, the New Mexico Constitution and the U.S. Constitution – are inapplicable would violate the oath of office he swore to uphold,” Romero said.
As to the substance of the issue, the mayor is on board. He issued an executive order placing a moratorium on fracking inside city limits.
The importance of the constitution
The Journal interviewed two board members of the environmentalist organization that helped draft the city ordinance. One board member gave the money quote, which I’ll mention again, since it is so revealing:
Asked about the constitutionality of the ordinance, (the board member) said, “What people don’t understand is sometimes we have to step outside the boundaries of the Constitution to get things done. Laws are made to protect corporations and we need laws that protect Mother Earth – earth, air and water.” (emphasis added)
So in terms of stopping fracking, the U.S. Constitution is apparently just an obstacle that needs to be cleared. It looks like that is just a set of suggestions for how we do things in the U.S.
That prompted the headline in the post at New Mexico Watchdog:
As a final comment, the reference to Mother Earth tells me that the board member clearly has religious beliefs as her motivation.
Having religious values different from mine is perfectly fine. That is one of many things that makes living in the U.S. such a blessing. My beliefs and her beliefs are protected by the U.S. Constitution. You know, that document which she wants to step outside of.
Let’s just acknowledge that she and the organization she represents are motivated by religious values. Likewise, the driving force behind this ordinance is religious belief.
(hat tip to New Mexico Watchdog. Wish I could write headlines that well.)
You can check out the full article in the Albuquerque Journal at the above link. You have to either be a subscriber or answer one minor question. (I answered ‘none of the above’ to a question about which names I recognized out of four local health plans.)