Lafayette City Council kills “civil disobedience” clause of Climate Bill of Rights

Lafayette City Council last night voted against the “civil disobedience” clause in its community Climate Bill of Rights, the most contentious piece of a proposal that has drawn passionate public input for months.

The modified measure, which asserts the right to a healthy environment and stable climate into city code, narrowly passed the first reading with a vote 4-3. The clause to legalize civil disobedience in defense of that right was removed late in the meeting. Without the clause, the measure is little more than a resolution. It is uncertain what implementation or enforcement would look like.

For weeks, City Council meetings have been packed with Lafayette and Front Range residents speaking their minds on the proposal. A large number of supporters last night emphasized their concerns about the health and environmental impacts of fracking and about a lack of local control over oil and gas development. Residents in favor of legalizing civil disobedience see citizen direct action as a last-resort protection against oil and gas drilling in their neighborhoods.

Opponents criticized the bill’s “vague” and “broad” wording and questioned how local law enforcement would be able to interpret the bill. More than one critic wondered whether such a law would allow neighbors to protest neighbors for activities like driving or barbecuing outside.

Last night’s meeting was held in a public library to accommodate the crowd. The vote came amid increasing tension between Colorado homeowners and the state’s oil and gas industry.

In recent weeks, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman filed a lawsuit against Boulder County over its fracking moratorium, and Broomfield held a massively attended public forum about the health and environmental impacts of fracking. Broomfield voted last week to indefinitely postpone a vote on its own moratorium.

Community members have expressed an ongoing commitment to opposing oil and gas development, regardless of what laws are on the books.

Council is expected to vote on the second reading of the measure in two weeks.


Photo via Lafayette City Council.