Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Time Oxford City Council Unanimously Voted to Approve My Amendment to the City's Codified Ordinances.

 My Dearest Fans, Followers, and Otherwise,

They call me "The Legislator". Last night, Oxford City Council voted 6-0, none abstaining, to pass my amended version of Oxford Codified Ordinance 923.16(a), thus banning injection wells within city limits. This is all I know of the proceedings as I was not in Oxford to enjoy my first (of many) legislative victory, but I'm sure there was cheering, applauding, and comparable fanfare immediately following the vote (again, I do not have all the answers).

Thus ends the saga of this law, for now, and the life and times of Tyler Elliott at Miami University.

I would like to leave you, now, with one of my greatest inspirations:

Thank you for following my journeys through this grand political experiment.


Tyler "The Legislator" Elliott

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Time I Presented My Senior Project to a Large Group of Peers and Educators.

It's been done. I successfully presented my research and legislation at the 2013 Western Program Senior Project Conference. It went well. Here is a blurry picture of me doing it:


My general outline was as follows:

1. Briefly discuss what I did for my project.
2. Discuss what fracking is.
3. Discuss fracking's byproduct, "wastewater".
4. Discuss Federal, State, and Local legislation on fracking wastewater.
5. Display my amendment and discuss my rational.
6. Explain that it will be introduced to the Oxford City Council on Tuesday May 7th, 2013 at 7:30pm.

I will update then, begrudgingly, four days prior to my undergraduate graduation.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Time My Legislation Was Endorsed By The Oxford Environmental Commission.

At last writing I was tasked with writing a cover page for my legislation. Here it is:

                                                                                      April 3rd, 2013

To:                  Whom it may concern                                                

From:              Tyler J. Elliott, Senior Undergraduate Student, Miami University

Re:                   Modifying Sec. 923.16(a) of Codified Ordinances of the City of Oxford, Ohio, Title III, Chapter 923

The following page explains the reasoning behind a proposed amendment to Oxford Codified Ordinance 923.16(a) that would ban the injection of wastewater into natural outlets by means of injection well.

Under the current form of the ordinance, which has not seen an update since its initial passage in 1963, there are no means to adequately protect Oxford from the disposal of unregulated wastewater. Ohio Revised Code 6111.043(b) (Regulation of the injection of sewage, industrial waste, hazardous waste, and other wastes into wells) operates under provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 (SDWA). In 2005 the SDWA was amended so as to exclude from regulation the operations, including, but not limited to, hydraulic fracturing and other methods of natural gas extraction. Such operations create a byproduct that contains chemicals and elements known to be toxic to humans, such as barium, strontium, bromides, and benzene.

Given Oxford’s location above the federally recognized Great Miami Buried Valley Aquifer, which is classified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as a Sole Source Aquifer (a sole or principal source of drinking water that, if contaminated, “would create a significant hazard to public health”)[1] a greater degree of protection deserves to be afforded to the region than that of which is currently available.

            Other cities in the State of Ohio have recently foreseen the potential damages that could be inflicted on their communities through wastewater injection and have passed similar forms of this amendment. These most notably include Mansfield, where a voter referendum banned the practice this past November, and Cincinnati, where the City Council, in August 2012, passed an amendment to their waste disposal practices with near identical language to what the following amendment to the ordinance proposes.

[1]Federal Register Vol. 53, No. 131, July 8, 1988.

I submitted this, along with the legislation, to the Oxford Environmental Commission on April 3rd. After much debate, parleying, and dialogue, a motion was made to formally endorse my proposed amendment. It passed with a 3-1 vote. The one vote against me, according to the sole dissenter, was based on the fear of the commission losing "political capital" with an impending fight on storm water regulations. This is hogwash and bullroar says I. But I'm over it. A vote against me? I look f*cking edgy now. 

I submitted the aforementioned documents to Councilwomen Kate Rousmaniere, and it was then passed on to the city manager with a goal of having it put before Oxford City Council on May 7th for a first reading. It would be at that point that I would give a presentation to the Council and answer any questions. From that point forth, it would be completely out of my hands and on its way to a second reading and then, ideally, a vote.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

The time I was validated by the Oxford Environmental Commission after creating a piece of fracking legislation without any formal guidence.

On Wednesday, March 6th I went to my second Oxford Environmental Commission meeting and presented my legislation to them. I was afforded a ten minutes on the official agenda; they ended up speaking with me for just over 50. I don't really know why they gave me so much time, as they had other stuff to discuss and were probably there for at least another hour, but it made me feel appreciated.

They had the only legally-trained person on the board look it over, and she said it looked good. Councilwomen Kate Rousmaniere, who sits on the commission, requested I put together something of a "cover letter" that would explain where I took the different ideas or language presented in the legislation from, so as to provide some form of rational for the potential law to whomever would be evaluating it along the legal process. I am in the process of creating this, and will present it to the commission at their next meeting on Wednesday, April 3rd. At this time they will vote on a resolution that would either give it their recommendation or lack there of, and it will be moved on to be presented to city council. Due to the circumstantial timeline of my project and how I will no longer be in Oxford come mid-May, they are trying to have the legislation expedited to the council, and I will ideally be presenting my work to them on Tuesday, April 16th. To my knowledge, they will not vote on it at this time, if at all. Essentially after the presentation, the whole thing is out of my hands, so it does not matter where I am geographically located at the time, and that is the place in which I want to be when I am completed with my creative project.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The time I created a piece of fracking legislation without any formal guidence.

I've done it. I wrote a law. I'm assuming Butler County Progressive PAC is going to ask me to run against John Boehner in the upcoming 2014 midterm elections. I await my formal request.

Here's that thing I made:


MODIFYING Sec. 923.16(a) - Private Industrial Waste Treatment Facilities, of Codified Ordinances of the City of Oxford, Ohio, Title III, Chapter 923 - Sewers and Sewage Disposal

WHEREAS, there is concern about the potential for waste being injected into the ground within the confines of the city and being harmful to its citizens and the environment; and

WHEREAS, municipalities have the power and responsibility to enact laws preserving public health, safety, and welfare of the municipality and its citizens; and

WHEREAS, officials are unable to assess the risks to the public health, safety, and welfare of injected waste; and

WHEREAS, the guarantee of safety to public drinking water cannot be adequately affirmed in areas of deep injection wells; and

WHEREAS, the City is located near the Great Miami Buried Valley Aquifer, which is recognized nationally as an important source of regional drinking water; and

WHEREAS, there is a preponderance to localized seismic activity in areas of deep injection; and

WHEREAS, there is need to expressly prohibit waste disposal by injection into any land within the City; now, therefore

    It is recommended to the Council of the City of Oxford, State of Ohio:

    Section 1.    That Section 923.16(a) - Private Industrial Waste Treatment Facilities, of Codified Ordinances of the City of Oxford, Ohio, Title III, Chapter 923 - Sewers and Sewage Disposal, be modified as follows:

(a)    In lieu of introducing untreated or partially treated industrial wastes and polluted waters in the sanitary sewers of the City, the owner of premises producing such wastes may construct and operate at his expense private waste treatment facilities, with the effluent discharged to a natural outlet, provided such facilities are constructed and operated in compliance with Ohio R.C. 6111. Discharge shall not mean injection into any land by well or otherwise, which shall be prohibited on any land in the city.

    Section 2. That existing Section 923.16(a) of Chapter 923 of Title III of Codified Ordinances of the City of Oxford, Ohio be repealed.


Anyways, tonight I present it to the Oxford Environmental Commission for critique and general feedback. I'm not scared they're gonna tear it apart or anything... not at all...


Monday, February 11, 2013

The time I went to Santa Barbara for a conference on fracking legislation.

Dayton>Denver>Santa Barbara. This is how things were supposed to go when I departed for the so-called "Birthplace of Aviation" on that chilly Thursday afternoon. Of course, this is not how things went. My flight to Denver was delayed by over an hour due to the plane being late from Chicago O'Hare. This isn't the first time such O'Hare has tried to ruin my studies.

United said the best they could do for me was for me to spend the night in the Denver airport, then fly to San Francisco at 6am and get into Santa Barbara at noon. And I was all like, "Well then I'll miss half my conference, but, like, I should still go." Well then I had this great idea as we touched down in Denver to see if I could get a flight to Los Angeles for that night, and, as luck would have it, there was one left, so I took it, and then I had to switch my car rental from a pick-up and drop-off in Santa Barbara to a one way from LA to Santa Barbara, and then I had to drive two hours, and then I got to my motel at 6 AM EST, and then I woke up on time for my conference, and then I put on my suit. What I'm trying to say is: I am the Apex Traveler.

So, anyways, on to the actual academic part of this post. Here is what happened:

09:00 AM PST: The conference began, on the topic of fracking litigation. While this wasn't too helpful in terms of my project, I did find it interesting.

10:00 AM PST: The main talk that I was attending for, Federal, State and Local Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing Operations, occurred. I gathered a great deal from this older lawyer who spoke quite a bit about Ohio.

11:00 AM PST: The talk of the hour was Insuring Fracking Projects. The only interesting part of this was learning that insurance companies had not yet dove into the topic of injection wells and earthquakes. I thought they'd be all over that.

11:50 AM PST: We broke for lunch for an hour. I befriended two "legal professionals", and they were so kind as to buy me lunch once they found out I was from an island in Lake Erie. This was significant because lunch was roughly $17 or more for anything on the menu.

01:00 PM PST: We reconvened to the topic of Liability Topics Relating to Hydraulic Fracturing. They should have basically called it: Environmental Threats Because This Technology is Pretty Questionable. I didn't learn much because, pat-on-the-back, I've studied this already, but I was sitting next to a pretty conservative guy who just chose to scoff at anything bad said about fracking.

01:45 PM PST: The first panel discussion of the day. What Fracking Damages. Mostly had to do with quality-of-life issues that could arise due to fracking.

02:45 PM PST: The most eloquent person of the day spoke at the Water Withdrawal Issues talk, he was from a law firm in Portland and I want to be him when I grow up.

03:30 PM PST: A really sleazy lawyer spoke on the topic of Preparing Your Witness for a Fracking Case. Like, assuming you watch Breaking Bad (and if you don't you should), he was basically Saul Goodman, but real life.

04:00 PM PST: The final talk of the day was a panel entitled What the Frack is Happening?. Ha. Ha ha ha. They are clever. Ha. It was just a collection of five "experts" who had spoken earlier in the day, answering the attendees' questions.

05:00 PM PST: Cocktail reception. We got a free drink each. I had a 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and I could totally appreciate it because I took Viticulture and Enology last semester. I rubbed elbows with the other attendees, got lots of free wine, and ate guacamole (for free) that was casually priced at $14.00/5oz. I even met an '09 graduate of Miami, who was now doing policy work in D.C. But the bad kind of policy. He was the kind of person I don't want to be in 5 years.

And thus, the conference was over. I proceeded to return my rental car and head to my Couchsurfing host's house for the next three days. As fate would have it, him and his two roommates were in graduate school at UCSB for Environmental Geology. Totally unplanned. They taught me to surf, make ink blots, and showed me around downtown Santa Barbara for a bit, which, by the way, was beautiful.

I'll update "soon".

Honestly surprised you're still reading,

Tyler J. Elliott
Future Important Person

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The time I went to the Oxford Environmental Commission.

The preliminary move in most any kind of legislative-creating process is one defined by, you know, telling people within a decision-making capacity what you'd like to do. So I did this.

As per typical governance, the first people you talk to are seemingly the ones who can't vote on anything, but can kind of pat you on the back and make you feel like you're doing something worthwhile. Or shoot you down in a fiery wreck of misery and despair and sadness. So before you face people like this:

He's a real jerk, trust me.
you deal with resident "experts" on the matter, otherwise known as putting the bill to committee.

Luckily the Environmental Commission of Oxford, made up of seven persons (one being a member of City Council, one appointed by the Planning Commission as an ex-officio member, plus five citizen members appointed by Council) were not the latter of the two aforementioned scenarios. I went to their monthly meeting on Wednesday, February 6th, and told them, boldly, bravely, in the face of adversity and oppression: "I would like to pass legislation regulating the injection of waste water in the city confines of Oxford, Ohio." Or at least I said something similar, a lot less eloquently, and with much more stumbling over my words. I'm just trying to paint a picture here.

They were overall very receptive, and when they set the agenda for next month's meeting, to take place right before Spring Break, I requested 10 minutes time in order to show them my proposed legislation; I have apparently now given myself a time table of one month to do a healthy amount of research and law-creating, with intermittent breaks set aside for inconsolable sobbing, anxiety-eating, and self-deprecating blog posts about how abysmal my work is and oh god why did I choose Western and what am I doing with my li- sorry. Where was I?

Oh right, I'm in Santa Barbara California now for my conference, so things could be worse. I guess I'll post about that in the near future, while mostly just talking about couchsurfing and how awesome surfing and mountains are.

Till time next,

Dictated, not read,

Tyler J. Elliott