FrackFree rallies as primary election nears

By Jamison Cocklin


About 15 community activists gathered on North Meridian Road in a continuing effort to drum up support for a charter amendment that aims to ban fracking in Youngstown.

The group gathered Friday near a billboard reading “Clean water, clean air, clean jobs” to underscore what they believe is an important effort to preserve the well-being of Youngstown’s residents.

To that end, the group, mainly consisting of activists from FrackFree Mahoning Valley, had a press conference featuring residents from Weathersfield Township’s Westwood Mobile Home Park in Lordstown, where homes are within a few hundred feet of an expansive drilling site in nearby Lordstown.

Those residents shared their experience of living in close proximity to the early-drilling operations of Houston-based Halcon Resources Corp.

“We believe Youngstown residents are being railroaded by the oil and gas companies,” said Susie Beiersdorfer of FrackFree. “Our neighbors in Weathersfield have been railroaded. They have a rig 500 feet from their property with no input — they had no knowledge of it coming in there.”

Patricia McCrudden, a resident of the mobile home park living within 800 feet of drilling operations, was on hand. She has been a vocal critic of living that close and she shared her experience at the rally.

Among the burdens of living near a drilling site, McCrudden said, are the noise, fumes, vibrations and bright lights that flood her property each night when operators illuminate the well pad.

Her way of life has been disrupted since Halcon began operations there months ago, she said.

Though drilling is unlikely to occur in Youngs-town’s urban core, exploration and production companies have been busy securing acreage on the city’s outskirts, as a land-grab has been underway in Mahoning County.

Voters in Youngstown will head to the polls Tuesday to vote on a proposed charter amendment that aims to ban fracking in Youngstown, or, at the very least, make it more difficult to set up operations here.

Critics of the effort say the amendment’s language is vague, with far-reaching provisions that could upend other aspects of economic growth in the city if passed with a “yes” vote Tuesday.

Most also believe the amendment will have little power because the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management regulates and permits drilling operations statewide.

The issue has been polarizing one, with a coalition of business, labor and political officials coming together to fight its passage.

With little financial resources, community activists will go door-to-door this weekend to gather support for the amendment and make phone calls leading up to the election.

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