Youngstown "Community Bill of Rights" Fracking Ban Charter Amendment (May 2014)
|Voting on Fracking|
|Not on ballot
If the measure passes, it will:
- Prohibit "unconventional natural gas extraction using horizontal hydraulic fracturing"
- Ban "the establishment of infrastructures supporting gas production"
- Ban "the storage, transportation or depositing of gas drilling waste products" in Youngstown.
Starting in January of 2014, supporters of a ballot initiative to ban fracking and include a "Community Bill of Rights" in the city charter collected signatures in their third ballot measure attempt. The backers of the "Community Bill of Rights" and creators of the website Youngstownrights.org were able to put the ballot question to voters twice in 2013, once in May and again in November, but both measures were defeated. Susie Beiersdorfer, a geologist and spokeswoman for the Protect Youngstown and Frackfree Mahoning Valley groups, said that supporters believe their third attempt will meet with approval from the city electors because the issue has garnered more public attention. Beiersdorfer said, “We now have a powerful base of almost 5000 Youngstown voters that could easily sway an election or ballot question. We will win this time because the truth resonates. We needed only 6 percent more YES votes to win on the ballot question in Youngstown on November, 2013. The gap is closing in our favor, and we soundly gained ground in November. In the November, 2013 election, the opposition spent an exorbitant amount of money compared to what we spent. In addition to the money, they also spent countless hours to oppose us, and we still gained ground. We are extremely happy about that. It shows the strength and truth of our position.”
Text of measure
The ballot question:
Shall the Youngstown Home Rule Charter be amended to add a Community Bill of Rights which protects those rights by prohibiting unconventional natural gas extraction using horizontal hydraulic fracturing, bans the establishment of infrastructures supporting gas production, and bans the storage, transportation or depositing of gas drilling waste products within the City?
A “YES” vote indicates approval by the voter and a majority of “YES” votes will cause the proposed amendment to be included as part of the Youngstown Home Rule Charter.
A “NO” vote indicates disapproval by the voter and a majority of “NO” votes will cause the proposed amendment to be rejected and the Youngstown Home Rule Charter would remain unchanged.
The full text of the "Community Bill of Rights" charter amendment proposed by this initiative was crafted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). The first section enumerating proposed community rights reads as follows:
The rights enumerated herein are in addition to and shall not limit or abridge other rights retained by the people, whether or not enumerated in law.These enumerated rights are protected by specific prohibitions included in this Charter Section and any additional such protections amended to this Charter from time to time.
A. Right to Pure Water.
All residents, natural communities and ecosystems in The City of Youngstown possess a fundamental and inalienable right to sustainably access, use, consume, and preserve water drawn from natural water cycles that provide water necessary to sustain life within the City.
B. Right to Clean Air.
All residents, natural communities and ecosystems in The City of Youngstown possess a fundamental and inalienable right to breathe air untainted by toxins, carcinogens, particulates and other substances known to cause harm to health.
C. Right to Peaceful Enjoyment of Home.
Residents of The City of Youngstown possess a fundamental and inalienable right to the peaceful enjoyment of their homes, free from interference, intrusion, nuisances or impediments to access and occupation.
D. Right to be Free from Toxic Trespass.
All residents, natural communities and ecosystems in Youngstown possess a fundamental and inalienable right to be free from toxic trespass and to be free from unwanted invasions of their bodies by any means, including but not limited to, trespass by manufactured chemicals, toxins, pathogens, or radioactive substances and their progeny.
E. Rights of Natural Communities.
Natural communities and ecosystems, including, but not limited to, wetlands, streams, rivers, aquifers, and other water systems possess inalienable and fundamental rights to exist and flourish within The City of Youngstown. Residents of the City shall possess legal standing to enforce those rights on behalf of those natural communities and ecosystems.
F. Right to a Sustainable Energy Future.
All residents in The City of Youngstown possess a right to a sustainable energy future, which includes, but is not limited to, the development, production, and use of energy from renewable and sustainable fuel sources.
G. Right to Local Community Self-Government.
All residents of The City of Youngstown 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.
H. People as Sovereign.
The City of Youngstown shall be the governing authority responsible to, and governed by, the residents of the City. Use of the“City of Youngstown” 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 122-2 Rights as Self-Executing. All rights delineated and secured by this Charter shall be self-executing and these rights shall be enforceable against private and public entities.
The remainder of the full text of the proposed bill of rights legislation can be revealed below:
Video publicized by Protect Youngstown of gas flaring and concerned residents near fracking operation in Trumbull County.
- Protect Youngstown
- Youngstown Rights
- Frackfree Mahoning Valley
- The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF)
Arguments in favor
According to a press release from Protect Youngstown:
Especially alarming to the Community Bill of Rights Committee and its supporters is that, locally or nationwide, heavy industrial fracking-related operations or infrastructure continue to be permitted near homes, children’s schools, farms, parks, forests, and cemeteries – in neighborhoods and residential areas. Private property issues, such as forced pooling, occur. Real estate home property values can decrease as heavy fracking-related industrial operations are permitted near homes or residential areas.
The group is concerned about the plight and adverse health claims of those residents living near a heavy industrial fracking operation permitted by the state of Ohio in nearby Weathersfield Township.
Lynn Anderson, a Youngstown Community Bill of Rights (CBR) Committee member, said, “Our analysis of the election results is that as Youngstown voters are becoming more fully informed about fracking and local control issues, voters are turning against fracking, and are demanding local control over how they want their community to be – which is the citizens’ fundamental right. We say the closing gap, which was 13.71% in the May 2013 election and now is only 9.72%, is evidence of this growing sentiment."
- Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA)
- Mahoning Valley Coalition for Job Growth and Investment, a bi-partisan group consisting of about 40 business leaders, labor advocates, clergy and other community members
- Youngstown city officials
- Youngstown City Mayor John McNally (D)
Tony Paglia, vice president of government affairs for the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber and coordinator of the Mahoning Valley Coalition for Job Growth and Investment said, "We think we see a tremendous amount of benefits from this industry, and with proper laws, we can manage the risks." He also said, "I'm not sure how you compromise with a group (Frackfree Mahoning Valley) that doesn't want an industry in their area. You can't sit down and talk about the issue because they're really just ardently against this kind of development."
Mayor McNally said, "The proposed amendment in each of its attempts so far is a very broad amendment, not only does it go beyond the issue of fracking, it goes into efforts to kill potential job creation efforts here in the city of Youngstown. I am not naive enough to think that this particular charter amendment will affect only the city of Youngstown; it will affect the three-county region here in Ohio and counties in Western Pennsylvania, this is not just a Youngstown issue."
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. From 1895 to 2009 Ohio produced more than 1 billion barrels of oil and 9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. One barrel of oil produces about 19 gallons of gas. 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. Fracking began in Ohio in 1952, and from then until 2009 fracking has been used to extract oil and gas from 80,306 wells.
The map to the right shows the active, horizontal and directional wells in Mahoning County as of March 18, 2014. The blue dots marks where a well has been permitted, but not yet drilled. Dark pink indicates active injection is happening at that well. Yellow signify 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.
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 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. 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 of up to $20,000 for noncompliance and increased operator liability for horizontal wells.
- See also: Notable 2014 local measures
- City of Denton Fracking Ban Initiative (2014)
- City of Athens Fracking Ban Proposal Initiative (November 2014)
- City of Niles "Community Bill of Rights" Fracking Ban Initiative (November 2014)
- Santa Barbara County Fracking Ban Initiative, Measure P (November 2014)
- San Benito County Fracking Ban Initiative, Measure J (November 2014)
- Mendocino County Community Bill of Rights Fracking and Water Use Initiative, Measure S (November 2014)
- Village of Gates Mills "Community Bill of Rights" Fracking Ban Initiative (November 2014)
City of Loveland Two Year Fracking Suspension Initiative, Question 1 (June 2014)
Youngstown "Community Bill of Rights" Fracking Ban Charter Amendment (May 2014)
Johnson County Fracking Ban Referendum (March 2014)
- Youngstown City Clerk website
- Mahoning County Board of Elections website
- Mahoning County elections department, list of May 6, 2014, candidates and issues, accessed April 6, 2014
- Protect Youngstown website
- Youngstown Rights website
- Frackfree Mahoning Valley website
- Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund website
- E & E Publishing, "Ohio community group hopes third time's the charm for anti-fracking measure," March 11, 2014
- WFMJ.com, "Youngstown fracking ban backers to try again," December 28, 2013
- Protect Youngstown website, accessed January 6, 2014
- Youngstownrights.org, "Youngstown Bill of Rights" text, accessed January 6, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund website, accessed March 22, 2014
- Ohio Oil and Gas Association website, accessed January 6, 2014
- NGI's Shale Daily, "Youngstown’s Third Anti-Fracking Referendum a ‘Jobs Killer,’ City Officials Warn," April 3, 2014, archived April 7, 2014
- Department of Natural Resources, "Oil and Gas Fields Map of Ohio," accessed March 18, 2014
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Frequently Asked Questions," May 30, 2013, accessed March 18, 2014
- Energy in Depth, Ohio, "Ohio Energy 101," accessed March 18, 2014
- PolitiFact.com, "State Sen. Kris Jordan says 'fracking' has been used more then 60 years in Ohio," June 15, 2011, accessed March 18, 2014
- Ohio Department of Natural Resources, "Ohio Oil & Gas Wells," accessed March 18, 2014
- IDNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources, "About Us," accessed March 18, 2014
- ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources, "SB 315 Information," accessed March 18, 2014