Letter to the editor

Gwen B. Fischer

Although a Kent “outsider” (I’m a resident of NE Portage), because I have researched issues behind Community Rights, I am responding to some of the many objections to Issue 21 in hopes of clarifying the history of this grassroots movement and answering the misinformed statements that KERG is ill-informed, mislead by “outsiders,” or that the Amendment will be ineffective.

(1) Kent and Portage residents have worked together for several years researching drilling and waste injection. We found that health, water, air, food and property values are threatened by this risky industrial process. We investigated regulatory protection and found that in 2004, laws were written privileging oil and gas profits over local rights to choose democratically how we live. Local public officials told us they could do nothing about the threats posed by drilling and waste disposal. We lobbied legislators and begged local officials to protect us. Kent residents asked City Council (2012) to ban this process.

(2) Researching how we could protect ourselves, we found The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Discovering they have helped more than 100 communities (including the thriving city of Pittsburgh), Kent residents worked with CELDF on Issue 21 to assert inalienable rights to choose to protect Kent.    

(3) Issue 21 says “no” to drilling because of research like these examples: (a) Lectures by physicians, scientists and engineers on the toxicology associated with drilling chemicals and other medical threats to well neighbors and workers; these lectures are accredited by the American Medical Association. (b) The Compendium assembled by medical professionals listing scientific research and verified reports of oil and gas drilling, infrastructure, accidents and contamination which concludes: “a significant body of evidence has emerged to demonstrate that these activities are inherently dangerous to people and their communities. Risks include adverse impacts on water, air, agriculture, public health and safety, property values, climate stability and economic vitality.”

(4) Oberlin enacted a similar ban. A pipeline company recently held a public meeting and displayed maps that showed a pipeline route within the city limits. Members of the local grassroots group (similar to KERG-Kent Environmental Rights Group) pointed out they had enacted a rights-based ban. This gave the city council the tool to reject any cooperation with NEXUS (the pipeline). The latest word is that an alternate route seems likely.

I urge Kent: Vote “YES” to protect your community.

Gwen B. Fischer

Professor Emerita

Hiram College

Hiram Township

Board Member, Ohio Community Rights Network