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A flawed charter amendment



Published: Sun, March 17, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

A flawed charter amendment

Now that the signatures have been tallied, an amendment to Youngstown’s charter seeking to ban hydraulic fracturing in the city will appear on the May primary ballot. Supporters of the amendment collected 2,799 valid signatures, far more than the 1,562 necessary.

But at least two things will become clear over the next six weeks as voters become more familiar with the amendment.

First, this is not an amendment written to address issues exclusive to the city of Youngstown. It is well over 1,000 words of boilerplate that the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is happy to provide to any group that wants to fight fracking or other presumed assaults on the environment anywhere. All a local organization has to do is change the name of the city, which is what was done in Youngstown.

Fuzzy and unenforceable

Much of the language is so fuzzy as to be unenforceable. For instance, one section would give “natural communities” the “inalienable right to be free from unwanted invasions of their bodies by any means, including but not limited to, trespass by manufactured chemicals, toxins, pathogens or radioactive substances and their progeny.” And what is a “natural community?” It could be a familiar pond, forest or swamp, or it could, by one definition, be any “distinct and reoccurring assemblage of populations of plants, animals, bacteria, fungi, and viruses naturally associated with each other and their physical environment.”

Is it a good idea to make Youngstown government responsible for enforcing the inalienable rights of fungi?

The second thing that will become clear is that passage would put the city on a potentially expensive collision course with the state Legislature, which years ago gave the Ohio Department of Natural Resources “sole and exclusive authority to regulate the permitting, location and spacing of oil and gas wells and production operations within the state” unless that authority has been designated to the environmental protection agency. There’s no exception for city charters.

That may or may not be good state policy, but anyone who wants to change it is going to have to do so in Columbus, not Youngstown.

The prospect of widespread hydraulic fracturing naturally raises questions and concerns, especially about water and air quality. But an unenforceable charter amendment that wasn’t even written for Youngstown is not the way to address them.


Comments

1DMan(5 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

There's a big difference between legislation written "of the people, by the people, for the people" by CELDF, & legislation written by ALEC. ALEC submits cookie cutter legalization with no regard to local wants, needs or environmental impact. It's loyalty coddles warmly in the lap of power money & corporate interest. There's a great divide between the two.

ALEC is The American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization "of legislators, businesses and foundations which produces model legislation for state legislatures and says it promotes free-market and conservative ideas."

ALEC is behind all Local, State & Federal industrial deregulation. Why? Because the people who own the corporations also own our Government. I don't care which side of this issue you're on, if you don't support the right of the people to stand up & fight against what is wrong, you don't support America.

Vote YES on Issue 1 May 7.
For Youngstown.

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2Debbie(22 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

It's true that some very "bad business" is going on in these United States of America and it must be stopped and reversed now (not tomorrow, but NOW!). The U.S. Constitution and the first 10 Amendments thereto are being side-stepped and disregarded by those entrusted, by process of election or appointment (and paid handsomely), to uphold and defend the rights and liberties written therein.
There have been numerous glaring examples lately in the many cases where citizens are being denied their guaranteed right to peaceable assembly, and their right to petition the government for redress of grievances. Industries and corporations ARE NOT PEOPLE!....they are structures and systems, even to be separated from the people who own and operate them according to the very definition of each.
Concerning the trampling of of our liberties....
Miller v. U.S., 230 F .2d. 486, 89 clearly states that the claim and exercise of a Constitutional right cannot be converted into a crime.
Marbury v. Madison, 5 US 137 clearly speaks to the Constitution being the supreme law of the land and that any law that violates it is null and void.
Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 informs us that where Constitutional rights are involved, there can be no rule-making or legislation that would abrogate them.
WHY IS ALEC RUNNING OUR GOVERNMENT???

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3Ianacek(890 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

The only lasting memory of this proposed amendment will be how a horde of non-Youngstowners descended on the City in midwinter 2013 to knock on doors asking people to support "clean drinking water & clean air" . The signatures probably more reflect support for [returning to] warm livingrooms .

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4Ytown20(118 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

When Youngstown's charter amendment passes on May 7, more Ohio communities will see the opportunity to protect themselves from this destructive and extreme form of energy extraction.

Youngstown is following suit just as Mansfield, Pittsburgh, and Broadview Heights have in protecting the health and welfare of its citizens, and asserting the rights to clean air and water.

Who wants to live next to a drill site, injection well, waste water holding pit, compressor station, pipeline, cracker plant, gas processing plant?

These are our neighborhoods, not gas fields.

Oh and @lanacek: Unless you went door to door to collect signatures, your opinion to as to why residents signed the petition doesn't carry any credibility, sorry.

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