FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Chad Nicholson, Pennsylvania Community Organizer
West Chester Voters Adopt Community Rights Charter Amendment Banning
Frack Wastewater, Pipelines, and Drilling
Join growing numbers of municipalities across the U.S. that are prohibiting fossil fuel activities by asserting community rights
West Chester Borough, Chester County, Pennsylvania — November 4, 2015
With over 73% of the vote, the people of West Chester Borough adopted an amendment to their home rule charter, constitutionalizing a Community Bill of Rights, and protecting those rights by prohibiting fracking and its associated activities – including pipelines and wastewater disposal. They join the growing numbers of communities across Pennsylvania and the U.S. that are codifying their rights to clean air, water, and local self-government, and are banning fracking activities as a violation of those rights.
The amendment was proposed through a petitioning process conducted by residents of the Borough, and led by West Chester Community Rights Alliance (WCCRA). The local group requested educational and legal assistance from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund in grassroots organizing and drafting the charter initiative.
The new addition to the Borough’s home rule charter recognizes rights to clean air, water, and the right of local community self-government. To secure these rights, it is now unlawful within the Borough for any corporation to frack for natural gas, construct pipelines or other infrastructure that would carry fracked gas, or allow for the depositing or transportation of waste resulting from fracking operations. It also places the rights of the community above the claimed “rights” of any corporation attempting to violate the rights of Borough residents.
The people of West Chester have acted not only to prohibit the dangers associated with fracking, but have also secured the right of residents to a sustainable energy future. This gives the community new tools to move towards sustainable and non-harmful forms of energy.
Diane Herrin, a member of WCCRA, stated, “We are proud of Borough residents for taking a stand for a healthy environment. While we may not be immediately threatened with a well in our backyards, pipeline construction and the transportation of waste are happening all around us. We hope to inspire other communities to stand up for their rights as well.”
Herrin added, “We will also now begin working to use our Community Bill of Rights to transition to truly sustainable energy sources. Our community, and the world, depend on it. Now.”
West Chester joins the people of Grant Township, Indiana County, who voted yesterday to adopt a community rights municipal charter, banning frack wastewater injection wells.
About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit, public interest law firm providing free and affordable legal services to communities facing threats to their local environment, local agriculture, the local economy, and quality of life. Its mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature.