The city of Youngstown is being asked to vote on a proposed charter amendment May 7. The entire amendment is fairly long and wordy. I decided to read and then summarize the proposed amendment as provided by the website www.youngstownrights.org.
Based on the first four articles of the proposed amendment, the following will be illegal in the City of Youngstown:
The extraction of shale gas or oil using “hydro-fracturing.”
To deposit, store or transport waste water, “produced” water, “frack” water, brine or other materials, chemicals or by-products used in the extraction of gas or oil, within, upon or through the land, air or waters.
To engage in the placement of production and delivery infrastructures, such as pipeline, processing facilities, compressors, or storage and transportation facilities supporting the extraction of shale gas or oil.
To use a corporation to engage in the extraction of water from any surface or subsurface source within Youngstown for use in the extraction of shale gas or oil within city limits.
The following articles of the amendment propose decrees concerning corporations engaged in the extraction of gas or oil:
- Corporations engaged in a neighboring municipality shall be liable for all harms caused to natural water sources, ecosystems, human and natural communities within the city, including Meander Creek and its tributaries.
- Corporations shall not have the rights of persons under the U.S. and Ohio Constitutions.
- Corporations shall not possess the authority or power to enforce State or federal preemptive law against the people of Youngstown, or to challenge or overturn municipal laws or charter provisions adopted by the city.
- No permit, license, privilege or charter issued by any state or federal agency, commission or board to any person or any corporation operating under a state charter, or any director, officer, owner, or manager of a corporation operating under a state charter, which would violate the prohibitions of this charter provision or deprive any city resident, natural community, or ecosystem of any rights, privileges ... shall be deemed valid within the city.
- Any person, corporation, or other entity that violates any prohibition of this law shall be guilty of a summary offense and, upon conviction, shall be sentenced to pay the maximum fine allowable under state law for that violation, and shall be imprisoned to the extent allowed by the law. A separate offense shall arise for each day in which a violation occurs and for each section of this Law found to be violated. Enforcement of this article may be initiated by the Youngstown Police Department, the director of public safety, or other designee of city council. In such an action, Youngstown shall be entitled to recover damages and all costs of litigation, including, without limitation, expert and attorney’s fees.
- Any city resident shall have the authority to enforce this law through an action in equity. Damages shall be measured by the cost of restoring the natural community or ecosystem to its pre-damaged state.
It is clear after reading the amendment that its purpose is to protect the environment and populous of the city from potential hazards.
However, the articles within the amendment are somewhat vague and leave interpretation to the reader. The issue on the ballot is for you to decide. I hope this helped to understand the amendment.