On New Year’s Eve 2011, Youngstown, OH, residents experienced the shock of a 3.9 earthquake. There had never been earthquakes in the area before. Linked to a fracking wastewater injection well, residents realized the threat they faced: fracking and its infrastructure was invading their communities.
Concerned about the Mahoning River, drinking water sources, air pollution, and radioactive fracking waste in their landfills, residents began organizing to advance a Community Bill of Rights Charter Amendment in 2012. The amendment would establish rights to clean air, pure water, and the right to local self-government, banning fracking as a violation of those rights.
For three years, residents have tirelessly worked to advance their Community Bill of Rights. Through on-the-ground organizing, education, outreach, they collaborated with other local groups and placed their measure on the ballot five times.
For three years, at every election, residents have faced fierce opposition: Local elected officials, local media, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Pipefitters Unions have repeatedly come out against the measure. The opposition lets loose their propaganda machine to provoke fear and confusion about the Bill of Rights. They even attack individual community members. The grass roots community group was well outspent by as much as 10:1 in each campaign.
Despite this, in November 2015, community rights supporters garnered 49% of the vote. The election was so close that a recount was requested, ballots were found to be unsecured, and questions swirled about election legitimacy.
Youngstown residents are determined to establish and protect environmental and democratic rights. They are forging ahead, gathering signatures for their sixth round for the November 2016 ballot. Show your support for the people of Youngstown and their tenacity in this fight for their rights!
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Dear People of Youngstown:
I support Youngstown’s Community Bill of Rights banning fracking! The people of Youngstown – and across the U.S. – have the right to clean air, pure water, and the right to democratic, local self-government. The time is now to protect community rights over corporate privileges. May Youngstown’s tenacity and grit inspire communities across the country to take action.