Nearly 13,000 signatures were submitted in five counties to place rights-based initiatives on the November ballot. The measures ban shale gas drilling, fracking, pipelines, and frack wastewater injection wells.
Residents in Athens, Meigs, and Medina Counties submitted petitions for county charters for the November ballot. The Cities of Waterville and Youngstown submitted petitions for charter amendments, also for the November ballot.
Each measure was written with CELDF’s assistance and includes the rights of residents to local community self-government and the right of the people to ban activities that may harm their communities.
Fracking and its infrastructure are spreading across Ohio. Communities are finding their state representatives and regulatory agencies, such as the Ohio EPA, are helping to drive the gas industry into communities – against their will. Even their own Boards of Elections are acting on behalf of industry. In Meigs County, the President of the Ohio Gas Association led the charge to block the Meigs County initiative. He was appointed to the Board of Elections by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, an industry ally.
Local Boards of Elections in Athens and Medina Counties also attempted to block the county initiatives from the ballot in July.
CELDF is providing legal support to county residents as they file protests against the Boards of Elections. Each county group met the requirements to advance their measures.
Last summer, Athens, Meigs, and Medina counties advanced similar measures and were blocked from the ballot by the Ohio Supreme Court. Undeterred, residents collected signatures again and are advancing their Community Rights initiatives, having addressed the Court’s concerns.
“People in Athens County were galvanized by what happened last summer,” stated Dick McGinn of the Athens County community group. “They are determined to exercise their right to initiative.”
Youngstown residents, running their measure for the sixth time, are also finding more and more residents energized by past efforts to keep their Community Bills of Rights off the ballot.
Waterville was spurred to action, turning to Community Rights when they learned their town is targeted for a large compressor station that would emit toxic chemicals from the Nexus pipeline project.
In addition, Portage County, Franklin County, and Columbus City residents are circulating petitions to place rights-based laws on their ballots.
Across Ohio, there is a growing recognition that people must assert their rights to govern and protect their communities. Neither our state government or regulatory agencies are going to act on our behalf. Undaunted by the courts, the state legislature, or the oil and gas industry, Ohioans understand that the power is in We, the People. They are joining Community Rights activists in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Colorado, Washington State, and Oregon, building a new people’s movement.
To learn more, contact Tish O’Dell at firstname.lastname@example.org.