Frackfree Mahoning Valley is circulating a petition that it hopes will land a question on Youngstown’s May 7 primary ballot.
It would ask voters to give residents a stronger voice in opposing the oil and gas industry’s operations in the city.
The group, a national coalition opposed to natural-gas development efforts in the state and elsewhere, will need 2,836 signatures for the initiative aimed at adopting a charter amendment that the group believes will give Youngstown greater rights in protecting local water, air and land.
Frackfree Mahoning Valley has billed the amendment as a sort of “community bill of rights,” but it remains unclear if it would have any effect in curbing the industry’s attempts to establish oil- and gas-drilling operations within city limits.
In 2004, state law ceded sole authority to regulate the permitting, siting and production of oil and gas wells in Ohio, including urbanized areas, to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Mineral Resources Management.
Susie Beiersdorfer, a geologist and activist with the coalition, said that the charter amendment would nonetheless go a long way in prompting the city’s leadership to fight for greater local controls. A rally also is planned for Saturday to kick-off a door-to-door campaign aimed at gathering the required signatures for the ballot initiative.