Braden Crooks of the Groundswell campaign writes:
After a meeting of the Centre County Elections Board [recently], the State College Community Environmental Bill of Rights and Natural Gas Drilling Ban is now officially on the ballot for this November 8th. We are the first people to successfully put a charter amendment on the ballot in State College since it became a Home-Rule community forty years ago. And our borough, along with two other communities in Pennsylvania, will now host the first popular vote on Environmental Rights in the world. There is no doubt: history is being made in State College.
If passed, the Community Environmental Bill of Rights and Natural Gas Drilling Ban will mark a dramatic turning point in the operations, governance, scope and sovereignty of the Borough of State College. By recognizing the environment as something other than just property, Environmental Rights alter the legal perception of our environment in a way that has remained unchanged in the history of Western Civilization, until now. Local Rights, like the right to Local Self-Government, alter the role of a local government in America from a tertiary role behind the state, to a Primary Democratic Institution, capable of empowering its citizens to make decisions about what can and cannot happen within the boundaries of their community. Finally, we will ban the commercial extraction of Natural Gas within the borough. This is a preemptive and proactive measure, designed to ensure urban drilling cannot occur in the Utica Shale under State College, and is meant as a powerful demonstration of the kind of decisions our community is now capable of making.
Many hurdles lie ahead. A large-scale campaign to educate the people of State College about Community Environmental Rights and the Natural Gas Drilling Ban must now begin. A get-out-the-vote effort needs to be held from door to door, across neighborhoods and on campus. An all-out push from the environmental community, the borough’s political leadership, and the citizens of State College must now take place.
I’m asking all of you to take an active part together with Groundswell in making history in State College. Now that the Community Environmental Bill of Rights and Natural Gas Drilling Ban is on the ballot for a popular vote for the everyone to vote on, we all own this initiative. Lets all take this on together, as important as it is, as the cause of our community. It is my wish that we work together as partners to alter the course of our community, and that history leaves none of us behind.
How can you become a part of this? If you think you can host an event, let’s do it! If you can gather volunteers to go door to door, we can help you! If you’d like to write an op-ed or be interviewed by local media, go for it! To be a part of the Groundswell, you just have to take initiative and take ownership of the cause. It’s now yours as much as it is ours…