Editorial: Fracking proposal cluttered
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel-Tribune Editor   
Wednesday, 30 October 2013 10:14
Jan Larson McLaughlin
For a proposal intended to protect the environment, the anti-fracking charter amendment proposal in Bowling Green is cluttered with far too much litter.
Several Bowling Green residents may find it difficult to vote "no" on the anti-fracking measure next Tuesday - as if they are betraying the environment. But no matter how conflicted they feel, they should vote against the proposal.
I don't doubt the moral convictions of those promoting the charter amendment. But I do question their choice of geographic targets, their lack of concise language, and their casual commitment to accuracy.
I never imagined myself voting against an anti-fracking ballot issue - but I never imagined one worded like the proposal in Bowling Green.
It's that broad wording that has Bowling Green officials worried. The proposed amendment barely mentions fracking - but it does promise "pure water," "clean air," "peaceful enjoyment of home" and "rights of natural communities."
City officials who have worked hard to secure renewable non-fossil fuel sources of energy, worry that the aspirational language of the ordinance could lead to as much as an 86-percent increase in electric rates and a 35-percent increase in water and sewer rates.
They worry that an unintended consequence of the amendment would be the loss of jobs as businesses are discouraged to stay or locate here.
Many have also questioned the reasoning behind the charter amendment being placed on the Bowling Green ballot. It's not as if Bowling Green's geology or urban setting lends itself to fracking.
Some suspect it's what's above the ground - a more environmentally sympathetic college community - rather than what's below the surface that led to the proposal here.
Some question if the anti-fracking charter amendment in Bowling Green was selected in hopes of giving the measure roots somewhere in Ohio so the precedent could more easily spread elsewhere. But Bowling Green officials have no desire to be the guinea pig, putting the city at risk of unintended consequences from the charter amendment.
There are also concerns about the fracking issue being part of the city's charter, normally reserved for outlining operations of the city. The amendment would shortcut the customary practice of multiple public hearings and committee meetings prior to any changes made to the city charter.
It isn't that city officials want fracking. In an attempt to protect the city from such acts, city council voted unanimously last month to adopt an anti-fracking ordinance. Proponents of the charter amendment argue that an ordinance can't protect the city nearly as well as a charter amendment. That may be, but until they clean out the trash from their proposal, Bowling Green voters should say "no" to such a measure.

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