City of Niles "Community Bill of Rights" Fracking Ban Initiative (November 2014)

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A City of Niles "Community Bill of Rights" Fracking Ban Initiative ballot question was not put on the November 4, 2014 election ballot for voters in the city of Niles in Trumbull County, Ohio. It was not put on the ballot because the city council voted to approve the initiative themselves directly.[1]

This measure established a community bill of rights prohibiting any new projects that drill for and extract shale gas and oil, especially through the process known as fracking. It also contained provisions "subordinating the privileges bestowed on corporations to the rights and governance of the people."[2]

The Keep Niles Safe Committee, which backed the initiative, had until July 7, 2014, to collect and turn in 620 valid signatures to qualify its initiative for the November ballot. They reached this goal, giving the city council the option of [3]

A similar bill of rights initiative was on the May 6, 2014 election ballot for voters in the city of Youngstown, Ohio, where it was defeated.

Text of measure

Full text

The full text of the first section, the Preamble, of the initiative petition proposed by this measure is:[2]

City of Niles Community Protection From Shale Gas and Oil Extraction and Waste Disposal Bill of Rights Ordinance: An Ordinance Establishing A Community Bill of Rights for Niles Residents and Natural Communities and Protecting Those Rights by Prohibiting New Shale Gas and Oil Extraction and Related Activities; And by Subordinating the Privileges Bestowed on Corporations to the Rights and Governance of the People.


Whereas, this ordinance establishes a Community Bill of Rights which recognizes and secures the civil and political rights of Niles residents, pursuant to Article I, Section 20 of the Ohio Constitution which states: “This enumeration of rights shall not be construed to impair or deny others retained by the people, and all powers, not herein delegated, remain with the people;” and

Whereas, this ordinance bans any new extraction of shale gas and oil, along with associated activities, including the disposal of fracking wastes into injection wells within the City because these activities violate the civil rights of Niles residents, and because they threaten the health, safety, and welfare of residents and neighborhoods of Niles; and

Whereas, this ordinance removes legal powers and authority from corporations in violation of its prohibitions, in recognition that those legal powers are illegitimate and unjust, in that they place the rights of a corporate minority over the rights and political authority of a majority of Niles residents; and Whereas, this Ordinance shall be known and may be cited as “Niles’ Community Protection from Shale Gas and Oil Extraction and Waste Disposal Ordinance;” and

Whereas, this Ordinance is enacted pursuant to the inherent right of the residents of Niles City to govern their own community, including, without limitation, the Declaration of Independence’s recognition that governments are instituted to secure the rights of people, and the Ohio Constitution’s recognition that “All political power is inherent in the people.”

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED by the people of the City of Niles, that we hereby adopt the following ordinance, which establishes a Bill of Rights for the residents and communities of the City, bans commercial extraction of shale gas and oil within Niles City because that extraction and that waste disposal cannot be achieved without violating the rights of residents and communities or endangering their health, safety, and welfare; removes certain legal powers from gas extraction corporations operating within Niles City; nullifies state laws, permits, and other authorizations which interfere with the rights secured by this ordinance; and imposes liabilities and fines for violations thereof.[4]

The remainder of the full text of the petition is below:[2]


The Keep Niles Safe Committee was behind the initiative petition.[3]

Path to the ballot

The Keep Niles Safe Committee had until July 7, 2014, to collect and turn in 620 valid signatures to qualify its initiative for the November ballot. The committee originally tried to get the initiative on the May 6 election ballot to join activists in Youngstown. They succeeded, however, in qualifying the initiative for the November 4 election ballot, resulting in the city council voting to directly approve the proposed legislation.[3]


Map of oil and gas wells in Trumbull County, OH

The first oil well was drilled in Ohio in 1895 and production has been occurring ever since. Just over 75 percent of counties in Ohio have commercial oil and gas resources, although production is concentrated in the eastern half of the state.[5] From 1895 to 2009 Ohio produced more than 1 billion barrels of oil and 9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.[6] Ohio sits on top of the Utica shale formation, which is expected to hold between 5.5 to 25 billion barrels of oil and 15 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.[7] Fracking began in Ohio in 1952, and, from then until 2009, fracking has been used to extract oil and gas from 80,306 wells.[8]

The map to the right shows all the active, horizontal and directional wells in Trumbull County as of March 18, 2014. The blue dots mark where a well has been permitted, but not yet drilled. Dark pink indicates active injection is happening at that well. Yellow signifies a well that is being drilled. Green indicates that a well is producing. Light pink denotes that the well is plugged. Salmon means that the well is inactive. Orange means the well is dry and abandoned.[9]

Oil and gas drilling is regulated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Oil and Gas Resources. The Division is responsible for regulating oil and gas operations, drilling, underground injection, solution mining and brine disposal. The ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources is also responsible for inspecting the drilling, plugging and restoration of wells and well sites.[10] On June 11, 2012 Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 315, creating new regulations applying to fracking. This bill created a chemical disclosure requirement, set up rules for chemical sharing among doctors, required water sampling, created daily fines up to $20,000 for noncompliance and increased operator liability for horizontal wells.[11]

Similar measures

See also: Notable 2014 local measures

Local measures

Approveda Denton, Texas (November 2014)
Approveda Athens, Ohio Issue 7 (November 2014)
Defeatedd Santa Barbara, California Measure P (November 2014)
Approveda San Benito County, California Measure J (November 2014)
Approveda Mendocino County, California Measure S (November 2014)
Defeatedd Gates Mills, Ohio Issue 51 (November 2014)
Defeatedd Youngstown, Ohio Issue 4 (November 2014)
Defeatedd Kent, Ohio Issue 21
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of Niles "Community Bill of Rights" Fracking Ban Initiative (November 2014) Approveda
Defeatedd City of Loveland Two Year Fracking Suspension Initiative, Question 1 (June 2014)
Defeatedd Youngstown "Community Bill of Rights" Fracking Ban Charter Amendment (May 2014)
Defeatedd Johnson County Fracking Ban Referendum (March 2014)

Statewide measures

Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Colorado Fracking Ban Initiative (2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Michigan Fracking Ban Initiative (2014)

See also

External links

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