Yellow Springs News - Letter to the Editor: Ban empowers community,
October 11th, 2012
Time to celebrate! On Oct. 1, after four previous readings, the Village Council, in their final vote, passed the community bill of rights ordinance banning corporations from fracking or the placement of injection wells with frack waste in the village. The ordinance was drafted by the Community Environmental [Legal] Defense Fund, or CELDF, a group which has helped communities all over the country to assert rights to local self-governance, challenging corporations’ rights to threaten a community’s health, welfare and environment. CELDF lent their assistance at the invitation of Gas and Oil Drilling Awareness and education, or GODAE, a group of Yellow Springs citizens concerned about the dangers of fracking and injection wells.
It took a conversation of many weeks to complete the final vote, but in the end it included a good collaboration with many conversations between Council and GODAE members, members of CELDF, Village solicitors, the Village manager, and CELDF’s attorney. The vote makes Yellow Springs the first municipality in the state to enact a local bill of rights and protect those rights by banning gas drilling, fracking, and placement of injection wells. It asserts the fundamental rights of residents to clean air and water and to protect the rights of nature. State law currently permits fracking and related activities, allowing corporations to site drilling and injection wells over the wishes of the community. This ordinance recognizes the rights of community members as superior to the regulatory laws of Ohio and finds the issuance of drilling permits in violation of community rights.
I hope that this law will not only protect Yellow Springs, but give courage to neighboring cities and towns, letting them see we are not helpless in the face of the power and money of corporations who threaten our basic survival needs, e.g. clean air, water, human and environmental health and welfare. We have a long way to go, considering the widespread belief that fracking is the solution to our energy problems, but there are things we can learn from this model ordinance about the dangers we face from fracking which are persistently hidden by oil companies, and about our fundamental rights as citizens to exercise our democratic rights.