Community Bill of Rights Has Far Reaching Effect

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Supporters are calling Youngstown’s proposed charter amendment the “Community Bill of Rights” but one local attorney who has handled a number of oil and gas industry related issues calls the proposal “poorly written” and “poorly conceived.”

Supporters say the proposal would ban hydraulic fracturing within city limits for the oil and gas industry. But attorney Alan Wenger said the language in the proposal covers more than fracking. He said the proposal bans companies that manufacture pipe and other equipment for the oil and gas drilling industry.

Youngstown voters will vote on the amendment Tuesday.

Wenger said the proposal has specific language stating those accused of violating the amendment would not be afforded certain provisions and rights guaranteed by the U.S. and Ohio constitutions.

“We don’t know what they’ve intended and the words should very strictly reflect what is intended,” Wenger said.

The proposal also seeks to ban brine and other oilfield waste injection wells in the city and outlaws businesses related to the shale drilling industry.

“That could be applied to almost any industrial or manufacturing sort of activity in the city or its environs,” Wenger said.

Other provisions hold companies liable for what they do in neighboring municipalities, counties and states that could impact the city, the Meander Creek and its tributaries.

Another proposes to invalidate any permits granted by the state or federal agencies that violate the amendment.

“It expressly overrides the Commerce Clause which is one of our founding constitutional provisions,” Wengard said. “And it definitely expressly overrides the Contract Clause.”

To view the proposal language, click here.

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