Opponents of anti-fracking charter amendment urge Youngstown residents to not sign petitions
By David Skolnick
The Mahoning Valley Coalition for Job Growth and Investment, a group that helped defeat a Youngstown anti-fracking charter amendment in May, is urging city residents not to sign petitions to place a similar ballot initiative in front of voters in the November election.
The group of business and labor officials, attorneys and politicians had a Tuesday news conference at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber office in downtown Youngstown.
City voters in May rejected the charter amendment 56.85 percent to 43.15 percent.
“The public sent a message the last time,” said Thomas Humphries, the chamber’s president and chief executive officer. “They didn’t support it last time, and they shouldn’t support it this time.”
To get on the Nov. 5 ballot, supporters of the charter amendment need petitions with 1,562 valid signatures submitted to the Mahoning County Board of Elections by Sept. 6.
Supporters didn’t have trouble getting enough valid signatures for the May election and say they expect to have enough this time, too.
Opponents to the amendment — which would make it illegal to drill for gas and oil in the city — say the proposal, if passed, is unenforceable because the state has complete control over regulating gas and oil drilling. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has said on a number of occasions that fracking is controlled by the state.
The bill includes one change in language compared with the previous version: exempting manufactured products, including the sale of components and materials used in oil and gas exploration, from the proposed ban.
But coalition members say the proposed amendment language still is too broad and unconstitutional.