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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Ohio Supreme Court Allows Anti-Fracking Amendment to Hit Ballots in Youngstown for Seventh Time

From the Tribune Chronicle:
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a charter amendment aimed at banning hydraulic fracturing — commonly called fracking — inside city limits must appear on the May ballot.

The ruling, issued Tuesday, states the Mahoning County Board of Elections abused its discretion when it refused to place the Youngstown Drinking Water Protection Bill of Rights, also known as the Community Bill of Rights, on the ballot even if the proposed amendment wouldn’t necessarily be constitutional or legally enforceable if enacted. 
The proposed amendment, which has been rejected by voters six previous times, would recognize the right of residents to clean water, air and soil, and to be free from certain fossil-fuel drilling and extraction activities, require the city to prosecute violations of the amendment and restrict the use of funds allocated to the city’s water and sewer infrastructure, the court’s ruling states. 
Lynn Anderson, a member of the Committee for the Youngstown Water Protection Bill of Rights, said the court made the right decision although placing it on the ballot of an election that is 12 days away only exacerbates what she described as a “David versus Goliath” scenario. 
Although fracking isn’t occurring inside Youngstown city limits, there are injection wells outside the city limits, including near the Meander Reservoir, which supplies water to Youngstown, Niles and McDonald, Anderson said. Wastewater from fracking is also being processed at a facility in the city along the Mahoning River, Anderson said.
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Opponents of the amendment quickly expressed their intentions to see that it meets a seventh defeat with voters.  From Business Journal Daily:
Opponents of a Youngstown charter amendment that would prohibit activity related to the extraction of oil and gas in the city urged voters to once again reject the measure, following an Ohio Supreme Court decision Tuesday. 
The state high court ruled that the Mahoning County Board of Elections “abused its discretion” by deciding that the proposed charter amendment exceeded the city’s legislative power and kept it off the May ballot. 
“Given the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision yesterday placing the community bill of rights charter amendment on the ballot for the seventh time, the Mahoning County Coalition for Job Growth and Investment announces its efforts to once again defeat this measure at the ballot,” the coalition announced today.

The coalition, organized by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, includes local political leaders, labor organizations, area business leaders and community groups.
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