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Supporters of the anti-fracking charter amendment say it protects people

Published: Mon, April 29, 2013 @ 12:05 a.m.

By David Skolnick



Supporters of a Youngstown anti-fracking charter amendment on the May 7 ballot say the proposal returns the rights to clean air, pure water and self-government to the people.

But opponents of the citizens-based initiative see the proposal quite differently.

First, they say, the proposal isn’t enforceable, something disputed by the Committee for the Proposed Amendment to the Charter of the City of Youngstown, the group backing the amendment.

“If it’s adopted, it will be part of the city law,” said James B. Callen, the group’s legal counsel. “If it’s passed, it’s the law. If someone believes it’s not enforceable, it can be challenged. This has been adopted around the country. If the citizens of Youngstown adopt the amendment, it’s the law for the city.”

The ballot language calls for Youngstown to circumvent the federal and state constitutions. No city charter amendment can legally do that, said Atty. Alan Wenger, a member of the Mahoning Valley Coalition for Job Growth and Investment, an organization opposed to the proposal.

Even so, if the issue passes, lawsuits would likely result to prove that it’s unenforceable and in turn that would discourage businesses from coming to the city, he said.

“It could be a circus for businesses,” said Wenger, who is also an attorney with Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell and chairman of the law firm’s oil and gas practice group.

Wenger and other members of the coalition — which includes business, labor and political officials, nearly all of them not Youngstown residents — said the proposal is too vague.

For example, opponents say it could prohibit people from driving a car because one provision calls for the “right to breathe air untainted by toxins, carcinogens, particulates and other substances known to cause harm to health.”

“That’s just false,” Callen said. “It isn’t the intent and the language doesn’t say that.”

Opponents are misinterpreting the language, which is called the “Community Bill of Rights” on the ballot, Callen said.

“I think they’re providing the proverbial chamber of horrors to frighten people,” he said. “If passed, this would ban fracking in Youngstown and transferring gas” from the process. “That’s it. People are trying to use the fear of the loss of jobs to defeat the amendment. This proposal is an attempt to empower citizens to protect their environment.”

As for the amendment supporters’ intent, Wenger said he won’t second-guess it.

“But you have to go with the language in the document and the first portion doesn’t even mention fracking,” he said. “This is extremely broad in addressing anything we can think of in terms of chemicals, energy and water. If it’s only concerning fracking, they didn’t say so in this lengthy manifesto. The intent is one thing and the language is another. It goes far and beyond what these good-minded folks thought” they were doing.

The proposal would also make it unlawful for a company to “engage in the siting of production and delivery infrastructures, such as pipelines, processing facilities, compressors, or storage and transportation facilities supporting the extraction of shale gas or oil within the city of Youngstown.”

If the amendment is approved, it could mean V&M Star, which spent $1.1 billion on an expansion project in the city, couldn’t operate as it makes pipes for the gas and oil industry, Wenger said.

“Nobody’s against clean air and a clean environment,” added Mayor Charles Sammarone. “A lot of the things they’re concerned with should have been addressed by the state. The thing I object to 100 percent is any business dealing with the gas and oil industry can’t locate here. It’s not enforceable and the perception isn’t good for businesses wanting to locate and expand here. Take that out and I’ll support it.”

V&M wouldn’t be impacted by the amendment because the “pipelines” in the amendment are ones installed during the fracking process, and not pipes manufactured by the company, Callen said.

Wenger said he doesn’t see the difference.

The state Legislature approved laws nine years ago to take over control of gas and oil drilling from local governments.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials have repeatedly said the state has complete oversight when it comes to fracking, and nothing done by a community can change that.


1Debbie(22 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

If the state, ODNR, and any other state agencies have complete oversight when it comes to fracking, I'd say it's time NOW to pass this charter amendment. It's been "the people" who have been active in researching and watching over this process and this industry, then passing on the information to these state agencies, not vice versa. This is a fact to keep in mind at the polls next week.

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2SonsOfLiberty(14 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

What would you trade in place of the trust we all have that when we turn on the water that it should be clean and safe? Apparently some would trade this trust for absolutely nothing.

Ask the folks down stream of the Lupo dump who found out the waste traveling down stream to their homes was not detected nor were they notified. Would you willingly give your child a cup of poision?

The amendment is about a community coming together to say that isn't acceptable to us. We will not trade company profits for that trust. You cannot drink money and water is essential for life. The drawbacks to fracking is increasingly chronicled across the county, all one has to do is to spend a little time reading articles and watching videos posted online. The gas industry has told everyone there isn't any effects for a long time, we now know they lied.

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3TERRAPINST(320 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

FLICK!!!! I should have known you and that whacko Callen were associates. Only thing he's ever succeeded at is well nothing. He's one of those do-gooder types who bad-mouths public officials without any proof and never contributes anything substantial as a means of alternative. Not very respected amongst his colleagues as a lawyer, I mean seriously Flick-would you hire him? Remember when Krichbaum slaughtered him, after he called Kbaum a mafiosa? He lost like 80% to 20% crushed. His own party was against him, maybe he should have run as Green candidate.

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4Metz10987(145 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

And yet it is still inferior plus nonrewneable. Plus you have to use other fossil fuels to fuel the equipment to run the wells like pumps, etc plus the trucks to haul in pipe, sand and fracking fluid. Hardly a clear energry sourcr or at least to extract it. Vote yes on May 7th.

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5SonsOfLiberty(14 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Yea highpoint nat gas is cheap so cheap in fact gas companies flare it, a lot. They flare it so much that it is visible from space. Naw, no effects from that. Anyway after the land is raped, water contaminated, and the air polluted what is left? Notta, nothing.

In basic economics when you have something cheap you need to create demand so the price rises, silly thing called profit margine. The gas being obtained is currently be turn into LNG, some of it stored for the expected demand increase while the other part is shipped overseas. I'm sure by now you have seen the pictures of the LNG barge on fire, right?

Fact is those few and I mean few folks working for gas companies locally right now have part time jobs not long term ones. None of the ordinary residents in these towns benefit from any of this production. Instead they are tormented with industrial production and waste which includes radioactive elements. But you think those standing up against this process are clueless, shhesh.

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6oh13voter(1205 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Auto accidents cause more harm the citizens of Youngstown than oil and gas development, and the state has control over licensing and car registration. Perhaps we the city should also take control of these.

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7oh13voter(1205 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago


the charter amendment will have no control over the quality of your water.
However, if you read (which I doubt you have) you will see many unintended consequences. like not being able to use a lawn mower.

By the way, if you were a true Son Of Liberty you couldn't vote for the charter amendment.


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8TERRAPINST(320 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Yeah you're right. Callen and Fitzer aren't big losers. Well Im not going to speak of the dead, but they both fall under conspiracy theory whackos roles. Callen, what a joke, generally been dumped by even his most ardent supporters, He's like yesterdays Phil Kidd. Flick wise up man. Noone is as dumb as you act, these dogooders really got you duped huh?

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9oh13voter(1205 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago


Where is your proof that Attorney Wenger has received money which would bias his opinion ?
That was rhetorical because I know there is none.

Why not deal with the issues he has raised and stop the personal attacks ?

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10oh13voter(1205 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago


What is a renewable source of energy ?
Wind? Solar? Biofuels? Kryptonite?
Wind, solar, and biofuels require energy to produce. Oh and where does that energy come from? Coal and natural gas.

Further, it takes far more energy from coal and NG to produce biofuels, solar panels windturbines etc than each of them produce in energy. It's a net loss.

Alternative/renewable energy sources are a lie.
Yes a lie.

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11EllenM(3 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Vote Yes on the Community Bill of Rights and stop Toxic Fracking in Youngstown. Our local elected officials have been stripped of their authority to protect our health, safety and welfare and we have to stand up for ourselves.

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12SonsOfLiberty(14 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Oh13voter, hmm what page specifically mentions the words "lawn mower" ? Have you actually read it as you proclaim others have not?

Had you of done the above you would realize your diatribe while your right to say and post has no merit. Actually the Community Bill of Rights specifically states the comminity has the right to pure water, clean air, peaceful enjoyment of home, right to be free from toxic trespass, natural communities, right to a sustainable energy future, right to self government, right to have the people as sovereign and you're against that and somehow patriotic?

Again, where does it mention a mower? That's right it doesn't. It also states very specifically extraction of water and the subsequent destruction of such water or pollution of that water is considered by the "community" an unlawful act. You're against that? Gee, if you're the measure of a patriotic American I'll take your comment against me as a compliment.

We are a Republic, in a republic the community or in this case what some would consider the minority have a voice. As such we have the right to the essentials of life. Surely if you disagree those essentials are not necessary for this community you have the right to relocate to a town that doesn't mind, Chernobyl is seeking residents.

Here we care and a yes vote demonstrates that very point.

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13SonsOfLiberty(14 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago


Way to stay classy there Utica, yup real intellectual comment.

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14SonsOfLiberty(14 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Mora County, NM joins over 150 communities across the country which have asserted their right to local self-governance through the adoption of local laws that seek to control corporate activities within their municipality. 

Those here in the Valley let's join them.

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1576Ytown(1320 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

We can find sources of renewable energy but our water source is finite.

Only 1% of earth’s water is available for drinking water. 2% of the earth's fresh water is frozen. 97% of the water on Earth is salt water.

Why we would not want to protect this life giving source from harm is unfathomable!

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16cambridge(3806 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

ohoh13....you claim "wind, solar and biofuels require energy to produce. Oh and where does that energy come from? Coal and natural gas."

Could you provide any source to backup that statement?

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17oh13voter(1205 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago


My source ? Common sense.
How does a wind turbine, solar panel or biofuels come into existence? They are produced in manufacturing facilities. These facilities run on electricity, which is produced by coal or natural gas.

They are all transported to market by trucks or trains which are powered by oil.

They are constructed with the use of equipment that runs on oil.

And so on...

As I said, common sense.


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18cambridge(3806 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Quit a stretch.

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19oh13voter(1205 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago


So you're saying that the equipment used in wind, solar biofuels when manufactured does not require energy ?

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2076Ytown(1320 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

The average wind farm produces 20-25 times more energy during its operational life than was used to construct and install its turbines.The average "energy payback" of a turbine: 3-6 months.

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21oh13voter(1205 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago


Tell that to the taxpayers of Lordstown. Those turbines cost about $20,000 to install and produce about $600.00 per year in energy. Just a bit longer than 3-6months.

The rest of your information isn't based on actual numbers, those are the estimates proponents use when trying to sell the false claims of wind.

Actual numbers show a net loss.

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2276Ytown(1320 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

oh13...you're full of gas!

As usual, someone says it black and you say it's white.

Your actual numbers are not factual. Do your research before posting.

Lordstown paid $13,170 of the $131,700 for 2 turbines, the rest was funded through government grants. They Produced 6,450 kilowatt hours of electricity & saved $645.00 falling short of hopes, but still saving Lordstown money. One would question why they are only producing at 3% capacity.

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23oh13voter(1205 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

They are only producing at 3% because wind energy is a lie. It isn't 3% of capacity that is 100% capacity.

You live in a surreal world where estimates are written in stone. The point you miss is that the estimates are all lies.

The energy being produced by those windmills in Lordstown is all they will produce that is 100%.

And don't forget those turbines continually loses efficiency and mayhave to be replaced within five years. That cost should also be figured into there efficiency.

So you are looking at top production from them now.

As for the money you didn't include labor and raw material and other associated expenses.

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24oh13voter(1205 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago


$645 a year ? At that rate it will take 204 for payout.

Just remember those are tax payer dollars being wasted there. Your tax dollars.

The government would have spent the money better by giving it to the Lordstown School District which struggles financially.

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2576Ytown(1320 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Typical spending by our government. The government dictated which turbines were to be bought. Never said the government was good at shopping for the lowest price. Also, if Lordstown was not an ideal location for turbines they should not have gone forward. When placed in areas where wind can be maximized such as a higher elevation than most of the surrounding terrain, or along a wind tunnel.

There are many parts of the US that are perfect for harnessing wind energy just like there are some areas that harness water energy, Niagara Falls for example. Some areas of the country are more conducive to solar panels as well. Green energy is not the "fits all" solution, but we should use it where we can.

In the southwest, your hot water tank is the biggest user of gas or electric. Passive solar water tanks divert the cold city water to the roof where the water is heated by the sun. The heated water is then piped to the hot water heater, stored and kept warm for use.

Solar blankets heat swimming pools, saving energy. Solar panels on rooftops are able to generate electricity for homes and business and the excess sold back to the electric companies.

Why Lordstown didn't study wind currents and velocity before their purchase is beyond me.

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26oh13voter(1205 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago


I'm an all of the above person when it comes to energy. But like most alternative sources this one is not mercurially viable. Causing pain tto the general public by raising prices won't get you there anytime soon.

By the way, don't know if you noticed who funds this research , the evil oil company Shell.

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27oh13voter(1205 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

The charter amendment is unenforceable under the U.S. Constitution and The State Constitution.

It is also unenforceable because it is badly written. The amendment states that residents of Youngstown have "the right to be free from toxic trespass. " First there is no definition of the term.Second it's unenforceable because there are no standards by which to measure toxic trespass.

Since there are no standards the amendment could be read to outlaw car exhaust, or exhaust from any vehicle, construction equipment, anything with an internal combustion engine (lawn mower). It would bar many commercial and industrial activities resulting in loss of jobs.

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28oh13voter(1205 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Supporters say the amendment protects people, what it actually does is violate the personal property rights of city land owners. It takes away their ability to develop their mineral rights without compensation. How is that "protecting people" ?

Under eminent domain laws land owners are compensated for the taking of their property. Land owners should be compensated for the taking of their mineral rights. That would be millions of dollars, where would it come from?

Obviously the city couldn't pay. Therefore lawsuits would be filed by city land owners, probably a class action suit. This would bankrupt the city.

Protect the financial stability of the city and the personal property rights of city land owners, VOTE NO MAY 7TH !

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2976Ytown(1320 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

OH13voter: #37 "Under eminent domain laws land owners are compensated for the taking of their property. Land owners should be compensated for the taking of their mineral rights."

I would encourage you to read the following article dated April 28 published by Vindy .

Eminent domain, pooling or unitization. Whatever you want to call it. Landowners are responsible for paying up to 200 percent of each well’s cost, but they also pay up to a 600 percent risk-penalty for failing to take on early costs of development. Once those conditions are met, they receive a one-eighth royalty payment and own a proportionate share of the wells.

“They’re bending and twisting it every way but Sunday to apply it to what they think they need for horizontal-shale drilling development,” Alan Wenger, an attorney at Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell, said. Wenger represents landowners. “The underlying rationale for the law is being followed, but when it was drafted in the 1960s, lawmakers didn’t have the foggiest dream of what’s happening now.”

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30oh13voter(1205 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Typical liberal response combine different issues in order to confuse the opposition and the uneducated.

I'll humor you with this short response. Eminent domain laws, and unitization are two separate issues. Poor attempt to confuse.

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31oh13voter(1205 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago


Although I disagree with you I don't think you're stupid.

However after that last response I may have to re-evaluate my opinion. No, I won't elaborate, but I would suggest you read what you wrote.

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3276Ytown(1320 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

OH13voter: (#40) "Eminent domain laws, and unitization are two separate issues." Please explain the difference for all of us.

UticaShale: Did you actually read the Vindy articicle which I linked in response to Oh13voter's statement #37 "Under eminent domain laws land owners are compensated for the taking of their property. Land owners should be compensated for the taking of their mineral rights."

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33oh13voter(1205 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

The Vindy article does not compare the two. They are separate issues.

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3476Ytown(1320 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

oh13voter: you're the one that said they are two separate issues in your post #40.

Please explain the difference please.

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35oh13voter(1205 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

You stated that the Vindy article compared the two. I suggest you re-read the article.
You also made the comparison in your post.

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36oh13voter(1205 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

The charter amendment protects you, if your are a Tuna !

I just finished watching a video post by a proponent of the amendment.
One of the statistics presented in the video was the high content of mercury found in tuna.
The last time I checked there are no tuns in the waters of Youngstown or the state of Ohio for that matter.

The proponents of the amendment are losing it.

Tuna poisoned by shale development in Ohio ?
Desperation must be setting in.

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37excel(939 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

High velocity lead is the big killer here in Youngstown. Fracking or drilling has yet to claim its first victim here in town. We should be moving toward disarming Youngstown to save lives and tax money spent treating those who are wounded.

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38oh13voter(1205 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago


What or who is the woman"s source ?
Did she produce a report showing the increase in methane in her water ? Or did she make it up? Please contact the woman and ask for her source; then report your findings on this site for all to review.

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39oh13voter(1205 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

You always demand sources and yet when I ask for them you dodge the question, Hypocrite !

You also ignore the fact that the DEP determined that shale development did not cause the methane in the water, Hypocrite!

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