Energy. We all use it and depend upon it for every day conveniences.

But where does it come from, who controls it, and why does it matter?

NP TowersWhen you flip the switch to turn on the lights, what kind of energy is being used to produce that electricity? Depending on where you live and what energy sources are available, that electricity could be produced by a coal-burning plant or a fracked gas power plant. Maybe industrial scale wind turbines, hydro-electric dams, or an industrial solar project. Most likely, a combination of more than one energy source is producing that electricity.

More and more we are seeing a handful of corporations decide for us what kind of energy is available to us, at what price, and with little regard for the local environmental, economic, or human health impacts. This is unsustainable. Unsustainable energy projects are justified by government and industry claims about “jobs” and “energy independence”, or “green” and “renewable” being clean and cheap. Many of these claims are exaggerated or flat-out untrue.

Regardless of the energy source, when a small number of corporations control what, where, and how that energy is extracted, produced, and distributed, the effects can be devastating to real people and the natural environments they depend upon for survival. Industry decides energy prices, which communities will host their projects, and the method of extracting, producing, and transporting that energy – often against the express wishes of the community.

Federal and state energy policies restrict local energy freedom and sustainability. Communities are routinely refused the choice to create a sustainable energy future. Local governments are prohibited from exercising any authority to decide their own energy policies or to reject unsustainable policies set by others. Corporations and governments have become local energy decision-makers while denying the right of people and communities to make governing decisions about their energy sources and costs.

Sustainable energy is produced from truly renewable fuel sources; used to decrease energy produced from non-renewable energy sources; governed and controlled by democratic community decision-making over the development, production and use of that energy; and the production and use of which does not interfere with the rights of nature, communities and ecosystems. Sustainable energy development can be achieved only when the people affected by energy governing decisions are the ones who make them.

Communities have organized from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania, and from Colorado to Oregon, to draft Community Bills of Rights laws that prohibit unsustainable energy development. These Bills of Rights go a step beyond prohibitions, to establish the right of communities to a sustainable energy future.

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