Environmentalists want to ban hydraulic fracturing in Las Vegas, N.M., and the surrounding county and they don’t plan to let the United States Constitution stop them.
“What people don’t understand is sometimes we have to step outside the boundaries of the Constitution to get things done,” Paula Hern, a board member with Community for Clean Water Air and Earth, told the ABQ Journal. “Laws are made to protect corporations and we need laws that protect Mother Earth – earth, air and water.”
Hern was defending a “community rights ordinance” banning fracking that the Las Vegas (N.M.) City Council passed but the mayor refused to sign. “The way it reads, it will supersede everything – our city charter, state and federal laws,” said Mayor Alfonso Ortiz.
City attorney Dave Romero defended the mayor’s position. “To sign a document that declares those sacred documents — the city charter, the New Mexico Constitution and the US Constitution — are inapplicable would violate the oath of office [the mayor] swore to uphold,” Romero argued. “[H]idden within the ordinance are radical, inappropriate statements that essentially claim that no other entity governs when it comes to this particular ordinance,” adding that “It takes away rights of due process and property.”
CCWAE’s Lee Einer said that the mayor should “Let it play out in court.”