The new year arrived in Youngstown, Ohio, with earthquakes that appear to be tied fracking to wastewater wells and activists standing in the cold protesting. By some lights the poorest community in America, Youngstown had been taking in wastewater from fracking wells in Pennsylvania, which companies then injected back into the ground.
Under Ohio law, the state claims the power to regulate an industry like hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. Now one member of the Youngstown City Council says he’s not so sure that’s right. Councilman Mike Ray is studying a local ban, proposed by activists, on fracking in Youngstown and the surrounding watershed.
The ordinance talks about the negative consequences of fracking in terms of human rights. From the measure (pdf):
All residents of Youngstown possess a fundamental and inalienable right to the integrity of their bodies, and 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.
Ray says the language could use a little toning down, but he gave it a committee hearing last month. “It’s not real conventional,” he tells us. “Law departments and the city lawyers don’t like it. This is very nutty to them.” On the other hand, he asks, why should Youngstown have more control over liquor licenses than the injection well he can see from his own porch?
More: Fracking companies are opposing local bans wherever they’re popping up, including threatening to sue.