A new grass-roots movement across Ohio aims to convince lawmakers to once again allow local governments to decide whether to allow hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and oil in their communities.
The new effort is being coordinated by 16 Ohio groups with strong Akron, Canton and Medina leadership.
The coalition wants local communities to pass nonbinding resolutions to help sway the state. It has started making inquiries of local government to push for local control, self-determination and protection.
The goal, organizers say, is to affirm citizens’ rights to clean water and clean air, and acknowledge that drilling or “fracking” the Utica shale can create dangers.
The group says it is “steadfast” in letting communities decide if more local control is desired and needed.
“Fracking the shale to extract oil and gas is a highly industrialized process that turns residential and farming communities into industrial zones. Our communities should have the right to decide what happens in their community and whether or not that is what they want,” said Concerned Citizens Ohio member Gwen Fischer, a Hiram resident.
The state took control from local communities in 2004 with passage of House Bill 278.
Until then, local control had been involved. Today that control rests solely with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The local groups want to convince Gov. John Kasich and legislative leaders to switch back and provide communities with more control.
Petitions may be circulated across the state, said spokeswoman Sandra Bilek of Medina Township, a co-founder of the Concerned Citizens of Medina County.
“The key to the solution lies in the people demanding that their local and state elected officials honor their oath of office to protect their health, safety and welfare. Local control needs to be returned and the elected leaders in Columbus need to start working for the people and return to Constitutional concepts that this country and state were founded on, not taking corporate dollars for corporate driven, legislative decisions,” she said in a news release.
Organizers say increased awareness that the use of fracking technology is destructive to public health, the environment, and economic stability and jobs, has also led to the realization that the industry is destructive to representative government.
The oil and natural gas industry has repeatedly said that fracking is safe and necessary to get the natural gas, oil and wet gases like ethane, butane and propane from the Utica shale in eastern Ohio.
The coalition disagrees.
“Citizens are waking up. Local elected officials are waking up. People are tired of being pushed around, led around, and given the run-around by corporations. Corporations have not been given permission to tell us what to do or how we should run our cities, villages, and townships. The lack of local control is an assault on ‘we the people’s’ right to protect our own community politically, economically and environmentally,” said Plain Township Trustee Lou Giavasis.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or email@example.com.