We consider ourselves to be avid environmentalists and share the concerns of many citizens of Wood County about the potential negative environmental impacts of the several proposed pipelines through the area, particularly the Nexus project which will run under the Maumee River near Bowling Green’s water intake and distribution plant. A local activist group succeeded in getting sufficient signatures on a petition to place an amendment to the Bowling Green City Charter on the November 7 ballot. The petition was touted as an action to protect the city’s water by banning the pipeline project.
However, the actual language of the amendment goes far beyond the issue of pipelines: It states that “The people…and the natural communities and ecosystems…possess the right to a healthy environment and livable climate.” No problem with that, other than how does one define “healthy” environment and “livable” climate?
But the scary part comes next: “If the City…or court fails to enforce or defend this amendment…ANY person may enforce these rights through non-violent direct action…(and)…law enforcement, and cooperating agencies…shall have no lawful authority to surveil, detain, arrest, or otherwise impede persons enforcing these rights.”
Power to the people is an admirable objective. Citizens of Bowling Green are free to, and often have demonstrated openly on issues, have packed City Council meetings to voice their concerns, and most importantly, voted for candidates who share their views on those issues. For the health and safety of its citizens and the environment, the city has zoning laws, codified ordinances and policies; and we have highly trained and qualified safety officials and judges to enforce those laws and procedures. The concept of an individual or group of individuals to be able to act with impunity against a corporation or agency (or their neighbor, for that matter) because their interpretation of a “healthy environment” has been violated is what we would refer to as anarchy.
This amendment is well-intentioned (we hope), but ill-conceived. The language is too vague and undefined to be meaningful but broad enough to be used to the detriment of the city, corporations and the citizens themselves. We urge voters to cast their vote against the proposed charter amendment.
Bob and Joan Callecod