Everyday citizens have little say in whether coal trains are permitted through our community. No Coal Eugene is working on a Eugene Bill of Rights that will allow people to stand up to Big Coal corporations and defend their homes. The ordinance is modeled after Coal-Free Bellingham‘s proposed Bill of Rights.

Eugene’s Community Protection from Coal Transport Ordinance

City of Eugene, Lane County, Oregon


Section 1—Name

This Ordinance shall be known and may be cited as “Eugene’s Community Protection from Coal Transport Ordinance.”

Section 2—Authority

The residents of the City of Eugene possess the inherent and inalienable right to govern their own community, on the basis, without limitation, of the statement within the Declaration of Independence’s that governments are instituted to secure the rights of people, and the Oregon Constitution’s Bill of Rights Section 1 – Natural rights inherent in people.

Section 3—Findings and Purpose

Whereas, distant corporate operators desire to mine coal in massive quantities in Wyoming and Montana, to transport such coal by rail from east to west across Oregon State, through the center of the City of Eugene, to build an ecologically destructive coal port at Coos Bay, to transport such coal in massive freighters across the Pacific Ocean to Asia, where it will be burned in power plants, increasing the rate of global climate change (all the foregoing being referred to as the “Proposed Coal Project”);

Whereas, the use of coal for energy production has furthered global climate change, with that climate change threatening the very survival of human and natural communities;

Whereas, the State of Oregon has acknowledged the threat from the use of coal, and the only utility burning coal in Oregon therefore decided to stop burning coal in its facility;

Whereas, In response to increasing concern about global climate change, The City of Eugene has developed the Eugene Climate and Energy Action Plan. The Community Climate and Energy Action Plan goal is to reduce community wide greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. Coal trains coming through the City of Eugene would work against this goal.

Whereas the people of Eugene find that the harms arising from the Proposed Coal Project are numerous and affect every sphere of life, including pollution of air, land and water from coal dust and freighter diesel exhaust, environmental contamination through the leaching of toxic heavy metals, health threats from the increase air pollution and environmental contamination, noise, interruption of ambulance and public safety services, safety threats, loss to property values near the tracks, loss of use of tracks by other freight carriers and passenger trains,
Whereas, the people of Eugene recognize that merely regulating the activities related to the transport of coal through the City automatically means allowing such transport to occur, thus allowing the deposition of toxins into the air, soil, water, environment, and the bodies of residents within our City; and

Whereas, people of Eugene recognize that environmental and economic sustainability cannot be achieved if the rights of municipal majorities are routinely overridden by corporate minorities claiming certain legal powers; and

Whereas, people of Eugene believe that local legislation that embodies the interests of the community is mandated by the doctrine of the consent of the governed, and the right to local, community self-government;

Therefore, the people of Eugene hereby adopt this ordinance, which bans the transport of coal within the City of Eugene, creates a bill of rights for the residents and communities of the City, and removes certain legal powers from corporations involved in the transport of coal within the City of Eugene.

Section 4—Definitions

    1. “City” and “Eugene” mean the City of Eugene, an Oregon municipal corporation.
    2. “Coal” shall mean any combustible sedimentary rock.
    3. “Corporation(s)” for purposes of this ordinance, shall include any corporation, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, business trust, or limited liability company organized for profit under the laws of any state of the United States or under the laws of any country, and any other for-profit entity that possesses state conferred limited liability attributes for its owners, directors, officers, and/or managers.

Section 5—Statements of Law – Rights of Eugene Residents

Section 5.1: Right to Climate: All residents, natural communities and ecosystems in Eugene possess a fundamental and inalienable right to a healthy, natural climate.

Section 5.2: Right to Legal Standing to Enforce Rights of Natural Communities. Human survival depends on healthy natural communities and ecosystems. These natural communities and ecosystems, including, but not limited to, flora, fauna, the atmosphere, soils, wetlands, rivers and other water systems, possess basic rights to exist and flourish within the City of Eugene. Residents of the City shall possess legal standing to enforce those rights on behalf of those natural communities and ecosystems.

Section 5.3: Right to Self-Government. All residents of Eugene possess the fundamental and inalienable right to a form of governance where they live which recognizes that all power is inherent in the people, that all free governments are founded on the people’s authority and consent, and that corporate entities and their directors and managers shall not enjoy special privileges or powers under the law which make community majorities subordinate to them.

Section 5.4: People as Sovereign. The City of Eugene shall be the governing authority responsible to, and governed by, the residents of the City. Use of the “City of Eugene” municipal corporation by the sovereign people of the City to make law shall not be construed to limit or surrender the sovereign authority or immunities of the people to a municipal corporation that is subordinate to them in all respects at all times. The people at all times enjoy and retain an inalienable and indefeasible right to self-governance in the community where they reside.

Section 5.5: Rights as Self-Executing. All rights delineated and secured by this ordinance shall be self-executing and these rights shall be enforceable against Corporations, in addition to governmental and other public entities.

Section 6—Statements of Law – Prohibitions and Corporate Legal Privileges

Section 6.1. It shall be unlawful for any corporation to engage in the transportation of coal within the City of Eugene. For purposes of this Section Six, a Corporation will be considered to be “engaged in the transportation of coal” if it transports coal through Eugene, or if it owns coal being transported through Eugene.

Section 6.2. Corporations in violation of the prohibition against the transport of coal shall not have the rights of “persons” afforded by the United States and Oregon Constitutions, nor shall those corporations be afforded the protections of the commerce or contracts clauses within the United States Constitution or corresponding sections of the Oregon Constitution.

Section 6.3. Corporations engaged in the transport of coal shall not possess the authority or power to enforce State or federal preemptive law against the people of the City of Eugene, or to challenge or overturn municipal ordinances approved by the people when that enforcement or challenge interferes with the rights asserted by this ordinance.

Section 6.4. No permit, license, privilege or charter issued by any State or federal agency, Commission or Board to any person or any corporation operating under a State charter, or any director, officer, owner, or manager of a corporation operating under a State charter, which would violate the prohibitions of this Ordinance or deprive any City resident(s), natural community, or ecosystem of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by this Ordinance, the Oregon Constitution, the United States Constitution, or other laws, shall be deemed valid within the City of Eugene.

Section 7—Enforcement Section

Section 7.1: The City of Eugene may also enforce this Ordinance through an action in equity brought in a court of competent jurisdiction.  In such an action, the City of Eugene shall be entitled to recover all costs of litigation, including, without limitation, expert and attorney’s fees.

Section 7.2: Any City resident shall have the authority to enforce this Ordinance through an action in equity brought in a court of competent jurisdiction. In such an action, the resident shall be entitled to recover all costs of litigation, including, without limitation, expert and attorney’s fees.

Section 7.3: Right to Know. Any corporation planning to engage in activities that may be prohibited by this ordinance shall disclose those activities to the City of Eugene at least sixty (60) days prior to engaging in those activities. That disclosure, which shall be provided in writing to the City of Eugene, shall explain why the proposed activities do not violate the provisions of this ordinance.

Section 8—Effective Date and Existing Permitholders

This Ordinance shall be effective five (5) days after the date of its enactment, at which point the Ordinance shall apply in accordance with its terms regardless of the date of any applicable state or federal permits.

Section 9—People’s Right to Self-Government

The foundation for the making and adoption of this law is the people’s fundamental and inalienable right to govern themselves, and thereby secure their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If other units or levels of government attempt to preempt, amend, alter, or overturn this Ordinance, or parts of this Ordinance, the Eugene City Council shall hold public meetings that explore the adoption of other measures that provide for adequate local control and the ability of residents to protect their fundamental and inalienable right to self-government, including without limitation the amendment of the City Charter.

Section 10—Severability

The provisions of this Ordinance are severable. If any court of competent jurisdiction decides that any section, clause, sentence, part, or provision of this Ordinance is illegal, invalid, or unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect, impair, or invalidate any of the remaining sections, clauses, sentences, parts, or provisions of the Ordinance. The people of the City of Eugene hereby declare that in the event of such a decision, and the determination that the court’s ruling is legitimate, they would have enacted this Ordinance even without the section, clause, sentence, part, or provision that the court decides is illegal, invalid, or unconstitutional.

Section 11—Repealer

All inconsistent provisions of prior Ordinances adopted by the City of Eugene are hereby repealed, but only to the extent necessary to remedy the inconsistency.

ENACTED AND ORDAINED this __ day of __________, 2012, by the people of Eugene.

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