Vote “No” On Issue 16

Aliza Weidenbaum, Oberlin Resident

To the Editors:

Issue 16 makes no sense for the same reason that we don’t declare “no drunk driving on just certain roads.” Or actually, “No drinking the new whiskey on just certain roads… because we declare (in a local ordinance) a right to declare this!”

Or, say you have three kids. Say you have a four-bedroom house. Would you let any one of your kids declare their bedroom autonomous with a “Community Bill of Rights” that lets them specifically either ban or allow building a campfire in their room?

Probably not.

Let’s use our time and passion appropriately and effectively.

Let’s decide as a “house” — as the state of Ohio — to vote for a statewide freeze on new and dangerous fracking processes.

Unintentionally, Issue 16 does the opposite of what we need: a swift, statewide moratorium or an injunction, brought about by a single, compelling environmental lawyer. When it comes to watersheds, industrial practices and public safety — issues that inherently cross many county lines — decisions need to be clear, consistent and comprehensive, rather than a meaningless, time-wasting patchwork.

As a strong opponent of fracking, I will be voting “NO” on much-too-local Issue 16. Please consider joining me.

Send the message that symbolism is unsatisfactory — and in this case, that it actually goes against effective, broad, logical prevention of water pollution.

Other states are freezing fracking statewide, and other environmental lawyers are going after companies and government agencies directly and effectively.

Fracking is not a long-term cultural issue such as gay marriage. It is the latest form of “point source” water pollution from a specific, relatively new industrial technique. Rather than a long cultural battle (and rather than declaring new rights every time a new form of murder is invented), we can simply expect immediate enforcement — by our authorities, our environ mentalist watchdogs and ourselves — in doing the equivalent of preventing a drunk driver from getting behind the wheel of a Greyhound bus. We don’t accept a whole new scale of risk, either of crashing a full passenger bus or of poisoning our farmland.

If our police can confront the drug-crazed and the gun-bearing, surely we can have firm conference table talks with CEOs.

If Issue 16 were a harmless one-spot simple ban, I would not oppose it. And if it were a statewide proposal, I would not oppose it. But a single-city declaration of rights promotes the wrong approach to the broad, region-wide protection of our water and farmland.

Issue 16 is a well-intentioned manifesto, but it is unfit as local law and inadequately aimed as a way to stop fracking. Let’s insist on effective action and say “NO” to Issue 16.