Activists will try again for anti-fracking amendment

anti-fracking amendment
Lynn Anderson

After unsuccessfully trying to get an anti-fracking charter amendment passed in May, the Community Bill of Rights Committee is trying again.

The committee is coordinating a new door-to-door campaign to get the required number of registered Youngstown voter signatures to put a question on the November ballot.

The group says that a “yes” vote on that ballot question would uphold Youngstown citizens’ fundamental rights to protect their family’s safe drinking water, clean air and land, and to local self-governance.

“We came so close to winning last time that we fully expect to win the vote in November. In this past May’s election, we only needed 8 percent more to pass the Community Bill of Rights charter amendment.  We had almost 3,000 Youngstown voters who did the right thing by voting yes, and that is very impressive and very good news. We thank them,” said Youngstown resident Lynn Anderson, a member of Frack Free Mahoning Valley, in a news release.

The group believes that the increasing number of high-profile scientific findings, government reports, news reports and claims by people living near fracking-related operations is awakening more and more people to the need for a Community Bill of Rights to help Youngstown prevent dangers, civil rights violations and risks associated with fracking and related processes, infrastructure and millions of gallons of fracking waste.

“Nationwide and locally there are unconventional fracking wells and heavy industrial infrastructure that are way too close to homes, schools, parks, cemeteries, farms, and forests. Millions of gallons of our precious drinking water are being made permanently unusable due to the massive amounts of water used to frack each well.  Each well pad can have numerous legs that can also be fracked. How can these heavy industrialized operations be permitted so close to homes, farms, or residential areas? This is not right.  We need local control to protect our community’s public health and safety and to enforce how we want our communities to be. When the Community Bill of Rights passes in November, fracking and related activities will be banned in Youngstown as violations of the community’s fundamental rights,” said Frack Free Mahoing Valley member Susie Beiersdorfer in a news release.

The Community Bill of Rights Committee points to unconventional fracking going on in the protected area of this local region’s drinking water, a source for at least 200,000 people as a risky activity and one that should never have been allowed to occur. They wonder how the state could have permitted fracking operations so close to Meander Reservoir.

However, on Friday, a landmark federal study was released on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site.

After a year of monitoring, the researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to free gas trapped deep below the surface stayed thousands of feet below the shallower areas that supply drinking water, geologist Richard Hammack said.

Although the results are preliminary, and the study is still ongoing, they are a boost to a natural gas industry that has fought complaints from environmental groups and property owners who call fracking dangerous.

The Community Bill of Rights Committee cites an example from nearby Weathersfield Township of what could come to Youngstown if the Community Bill of Rights does not pass in November: An unconventional horizontal fracking well operation was placed very close to Westwood Lake Mobile Home Park residents, many of whom are retired.

Since then, residents have experienced diesel fumes, vibrations so strong that pictures on the wall moved, continuous noise and bright lights. Recently, Westwood Lake residents had to contend with extreme noise and air quality issues from flaring of the well.

The Community Bill of Rights Committee will soon announce a newly revised website where visitors can volunteer, donate or get further information about the proposed charter amendment.

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