Most people know that lobbyists are paid shills (for a product, industry, or cause). However, few citizens are aware that almost all state and federal laws are written by lobbyists. That said, this commentary is just on one subject area: wind and solar energy. Since lobbyists’ objectives (e.g., their client’s financial gain) are in direct conflict with what is in the best interests of citizens, this is a deplorable situation.
This travesty will continue until lawsuits expose how such laws contradict other statutes on the books. For example, most states require that state utility boards approve energy projects based on two paramount criteria: cost and reliability.
But wind and solar projects are high cost and low reliability — so how could any of them ever be approved? Because: 1) of the undue influence of lobbyists, 2) state utility boards are acting to support political agendas (instead of their own statutes), and 3) no one is suing them for their lack of adherence to state laws, etc..
One way around this has been citizens getting their community to impose reasonable (science-based) rules and regulations on local wind or solar projects (e.g., regarding setbacks, etc.). Of course, lobbyists and political virtue signalers find that citizens restricting non-sensical industrialization in their own community, to be unacceptable.
In response lobbyists got state legislators to pass state laws that limited what local legislators could do regarding the regulation of such projects in their community. For example, local communities are not allowed to make setbacks more than a “state approved” amount — regardless of what scientific information they have.
A major problem here is that in some cases, these new state restrictions are a violation of Home Rule rights. See here for a basic definition of what this means, and the numerous states that have Home Rule. Again, they get away with this extraction of citizens’ rights, because no one is properly suing them for this infringement.
The choice for citizens here is very simple: a) roll over and continue to be beaten down, or b) decide that they have had enough and then take meaningful action.
The good news is: if citizens are finally ready to pay hardball, they have several effective options. I’ve mentioned one already: sue state agencies for not complying with their statutory obligations. The most powerful lawsuit is to sue state agency members individually using the Federal 1983 Statute. This is to sue them personally for violating your civil rights, but it requires a sympathetic, aggressive attorney.
Note: I am not an attorney, so I am not giving legal advice here. Instead, I am simply letting you know some options available. Consult with a competent lawyer.
Another effective strategy against lobbyist influence is to outsmart them. For example, state laws that restrict how communities can regulate wind and solar are almost always about not allowing stricter setbacks, etc. than the state specifies. (Of course, the state has no scientific basis for the setbacks they allow — and, again, a proper lawsuit would expose that major deficiency.)
To effectively fight lobbyists it is essential to know the key factors needed to be properly regulated for industrial wind projects or solar projects. A clever way to outsmart them is to pass local regulations that are not specifically identified (limited) in a state law.
For example, pass a Property Value Guarantee. My energy website has a document about PVG, which also shows the scientific justification for it. PVGs are also incorporated into our model local wind and solar ordinances.
Some other clever tactics are:
- Pass zoning laws that limit where wind or solar projects are allowed,
- Pass an ordinance prohibiting any wind energy-related PILOT program,
- Assess wind or solar projects at their FULL value,
- Pass a General Zoning Ordinance listing a wide variety of things (including industrial wind energy) that would be inconsistent with your Town’s character, objectives, etc. [e.g., what the Town of Dryden did, which was upheld in court],
- Require that the wind or solar facility developer not impose any confidentiality clauses on any landowners, in their lease or easement agreements, and
- Declare your community to be a Sanctuary Community (opting out of certain regulations imposed on it by the State). [Note: to date, this has been done regarding immigration, gun laws, etc., so no good reason why not a renewable sanctuary!]
The bottom line is that if citizens are determined and creative (i.e., use critical thinking), they can outsmart lobbyists and lapdog politicians.
Here is a 100% guarantee: if you don’t properly defend your rights, they will take more of them away!
©2023. John Droz, Jr. All rights reserved.
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