A group of Youngstown activists hopes the fourth time is the charm after seeing the Community Bill of Rights defeated three times at the polls.
People representing Frack Free Mahoning Valley submitted 2,045 signatures at city hall, which is more than the 1,126 required to get the charter amendment on the November ballot, assuming the signatures are all valid. Each of the previous times the issue has appeared on the ballot, it has been defeated, however the vote also has been closer in terms of percentage of the vote each time.
“The only way we lose is if we give up,” said Susie Beiersdorfer.
The bill would call for fracking, and any activities related to the practice, to be banned in the city limits. The state has said the bill is unenforceable because state law gives the Ohio Department of Natural Resources sole discretion in licensing oil and gas activity in the state.
Beiersdorfer said things such as the bill of rights need to pass so the issue of state versus local control can be decided in court.
The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396 and the Community Mobilization Coalition again have expressed their opposition to the bill.
The groups have stated they again will fight the proposed charter amendment. The groups noted that if passed it would have a negative impact on the potential business opportunities in Youngstown.
Another issue is that most fracking activity has moved out of the Mahoning County, with Hillcorp the only company operating with sites in Poland and Springfield townships. There is no drilling activity within the city of Youngstown.
Susie Beiersdorfer’s husband, Ray Beiersdorfer, an activist and geology professor at Youngstown State University, said the group hasn’t won, despite most fracking activity leaving the area and moving into southern Ohio.
“Those were corporate decisions and not community decisions,” he said.
It’s still important to allow citizens to have a say in the businesses that surround them, said Susie Beiersdorfer.
The state agencies that are supposed to make these decisions don’t look out for the local community, said Lynn Anderson. The goal of this effort is that local communities would have the ability to decide what kind of businesses locate there.
“We don’t believe the ODNR is looking out for our interests,” she said.
Voting yes on this issue is a vote for local control, Anderson said.
By Burton Speakman - Vindicator, Youngstown, Ohio (MCT)
©2014 Vindicator (Youngstown, Ohio)
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