On Tuesday a group of Shalersville, Ohio residents attended a meeting of its trustees to voice their objections to fracking. Video of all the statements can be seen at the Shalersville No Fracking web site. There was a three minute speaking limit so the clips are short. (If you cannot watch video where you are, this is a rough transcript of my own remarks.) Here is just one of them, and note how the resident talks about her opposition to fracking from both a technical and visceral perspective. There are logistical, technological and environmental reasons to not want a fracking operation in your town, but there are emotional ones too:
Those speaking out at the meeting were prepared. In general people were not speaking off the cuff, but working from a prepared statement or note cards. We did our homework on this.
One of the recurring themes environmental activists have been hearing at the local level is that fracking is a state-level issue and that municipalities have limited ability to address it. That has been true in Portage county generally, and it was the case in Shalersville on Tuesday night. At the start of the meeting, one of the trustees announced that the speakers were strictly there for public comment and that no questions would be permitted.
The trustee then stated that they were essentially powerless to do anything because the state of Ohio had eliminated most mechanisms of local control (which incidentally is in defiance of the state constitution’s guarantee of home rule – more on that here). Fortunately, one well prepared resident addressed that issue head on in her response. Namely, at times in our history we have had immoral laws – ones that permitted slavery and banned universal suffrage, to name just two.
Simply declaring that the law must be obeyed under all circumstances is not persuasive. It’s fair to ask first if the law is right and just. And if a great many people are persuaded it is not, that is an issue that ought to be addressed instead of swept aside. Read the rest of this entry →