Tish O’Dell, Ohio Community Organizer
ATHENS, OHIO: Last night, residents of Athens, OH, overwhelmingly asserted their rights to clean air, water, and to local self-governance, banning fracking and frack wastewater injection wells through the adoption of a Community Bill of Rights. They join a growing number of communities across the U.S. that are uniting to assert their rights to protect themselves and create a sustainable future.
Athens residents adopted their rights-based fracking ban with 78% of the vote. They join Yellow Springs, Oberlin, Mansfield, and Broadview Heights, OH, which also adopted Community Bills of Rights banning fracking, beginning in 2012.
Ohio residents became concerned about fracking and related activities, such as wastewater injection wells, when they began entering the state several years ago. The fracking process produces millions of gallons of toxic wastewater, which corporations are disposing of through underground injection wells. Fracking and injections wells have been tied to earthquakes within Ohio and elsewhere, and the contamination of drinking water. And, while many claim that shale gas is a “cleaner” fuel than coal or oil, studies are finding that fracking is a major global warming.
Communities requested the assistance of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) to protect themselves from fracking and wastewater injection wells. CELDF assisted in the drafting of Athens’ rights-based initiative.
The Community Bill of Rights initiative codifies community rights to self-governance and a healthy environment, and the rights of nature to exist and flourish – while prohibiting fracking activities as a violation of those rights. The local Bill of Rights also contain provisions to protect the rights established within them, including provisions eliminating the power of corporations to use their corporate “rights” to override the Bills of Rights.
Tish O’Dell, CELDF’s Ohio Community Rights Organizer stated, “Ohio communities are challenging the corporate claimed “right” to frack, as well as the claims of our state government that communities have no right to protect their own health, safety, and welfare. They are joining dozens of other communities across the country who are securing their inalienable right to local self-governance and to a sustainable future.”
Through grassroots organizing and public interest law, CELDF works with communities across the country to establish Community Rights to democratic, local self-governance and sustainability. CELDF has assisted more than 150 communities to ban shale gas drilling and fracking, factory farming, and water privatization, and eliminate corporate “rights” when they violate community and nature’s rights. This includes assisting the first communities in the U.S. to establish Rights of Nature in law, as well as the first communities to elevate the rights of communities above the “rights” of corporations.