Increasingly, communities throughout California are facing the dangers of hydro-fracturing (fracking). Despite the severe drought plaguing farmers, farming communities in the Central Valley and throughout the state are being siphoned for water for fracking operations, or being used as a dumping ground for the toxic waste fracking generates. But residents in Mendocino County have another idea for water protection—local control. A growing movement in this northern county—home to wineries, farms and redwood forests—is concerned about their already short supply of water, and are not willing to allow the toxic infrastructure and heavy water use that fracking brings. As Peter Norris, a Willits spokesperson for the newly formed Community Rights Network of Mendocino County (CRNMC) says, “Residents feel strongly that decisions about water here should be made locally and should be focused on the rights of community and our ecosystems, and enforced by laws.”
Fracking is slated to come to Mendocino in 18 months, though residents seek to stop it before it begins by putting a ban on the ballot this November—but the ordinance they seek to pass is more than just a fracking ban. Partnering with Global Exchange’s Community Rights program, residents there have recently formed the CRNMC specifically to assert their right to protect the community and local water by banning fracking for the extraction of hydrocarbons, banning the use of local water for fracking outside the county, as well as banning the dumping or transport of toxic fracking waste through the county. To do this, their ordinance will recognize their local authority to make decisions that directly affect them and their ecosystems in order to ban all practices related to fracking, and strip fracking corporations of the legal tools corporate executives use to turn communities into sacrifice zones for profit.
The CRNMC is gathering some 6,000 signatures throughout the county in order to put the idea of community rights on the ballot this November. If passed, Mendocino County will join the ranks of over 160 communities—from big cities to conservative rural townships across the US that have protected the health safety and welfare of residents and local ecosystems by asserting their right to decide what happens where they live.
The CRNMC will be enlisting volunteers and signature gathering at a series of four public events sprinkled throughout the county:
- Friday June 6, 2014, 7PM in Willits: LL Grange, 291 School Street
- Saturday June 7, 7 pm in Ft. Bragg: Town Hall, 363 N Main Street
- Sunday June 8 at 1 PM in Boonville: Anderson Valley Grange, Hwy 128
- Sunday June 8, 4 PM in Ukiah: Methodist Church, 270 N Pine Street
The events will feature local speakers from the CRNMC, Global Exchange’s Community Rights program director, Shannon Biggs, and Americans Against Fracking’s founder, David Braun. Come join a lively discussion, sign the petition, or volunteer with the campaign!
For more information on the events, contact Peter Norris 707.456.9968, or visit the CRNMC’s website or facebook page.
Because a picture says 1,000 words, check out this short video on fracking, and get informed about Community Rights by downloading Global Exchange’s new toolkit!
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